Apple wants to cook up a more powerful yet sensitive stylus for your tablet.
Published Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, a patent filing dubbed simply "Input Device Having Extendable Nib" sees the nib of the stylus as the key to its power. The nib would be able to extend, thereby offering different capabilities based on its length.
At its smallest length, the nib would have a limited number of areas through which it could interact with a tablet. But extending the nib would increase the number of multitouch points, giving it the ability to create strokes of different colors, widths, and formats.
For example, the more portions of the nib in contact with the screen, the greater the size of the output. A longer nib might also be more flexible, feeling less like a pencil or pen tip and more like a paintbrush.
You'd be able to extend or shorten the nib simply by pressing an actuator or other type of switch, similar to the way you press the eraser end of a mechanical pencil to adjust the length of its tip. The nib itself would be made of a flexible, conductive material, such as Mylar. The actual strands in the nib could even be made of optic fibers to transmit light to the tablet.
Though a tablet would be one major beneficiary of this invention, Apple suggests other devices for this new type of stylus, including a smartphone, laptop, digital music system, and portable gaming console.