Apple tablet stylus patent filed years before iPad debut may boost education sales

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
Despite Apple having disparaged the use of a stylus for touchscreens, the iPad maker's investigation of a capacitive touch-compatible stylus could play a part in the company's strategy to increase sales of its tablet device to students and schools.



Speculation surrounding an Apple patent application for a "Stylus adapted for low resolution touch sensor panels" has been rekindled on reports that such a stylus could be used to improve iPad adoption in the education market.



AppleInsider was first to discover the patent in January 2010, two weeks before the unveiling of the iPad.



The application, which proposed several different types of styli, such as a disk pivot and a powered conductive tip, for use with capacitive touch displays, was filed in July 2008, several years before the release of the iPad.







The invention is credited to John G. Elias, an Apple employee and co-founder of FingerWorks, the firm acquired by Apple during the development of the original iPhone.







The fact that Apple continues to investigate the stylus input method has raised eyebrows, as the company has gone on record declaiming the stylus as suboptimal. In 2007, during the launch of the first-generation iPhone, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said "We are all born with the ultimate pointing device -- our fingers -- and iPhone uses them to create the most revolutionary user interface since the mouse."



More recently, in April 2010, Jobs said "It's like we said on the iPad, if you see a stylus, they blew it," during the iOS 4 event. The ensuing success of Apple's tablet, which sold over 14.3 million units in its first three quarters on the market, suggests that Jobs was right to abandon the stylus.



However, a New York Times report by Nick Bilton indicates that Apple may be looking into a stylus for the iPad in order to make further inroads into the educational market. Citing "a person who works at Apple on the iPad and is not allowed to speak publicly about the company's upcoming products," Bilton asserts that the main reason for adding a stylus is to "reach a wider number of children in school."



?It?s one of the barriers for school kids and college students to purchase an iPad where they want the ability to take notes by hand and draw in class," said the report's source.



Microsoft founder Bill Gates predicted last year that pen-based tablets would dominate the educational market. "We think that work with the pen that Microsoft pioneered will become a mainstream for students. It can give you a device that you can not only read, but also create documents at the same time," he said.



Gates, however, has not had a good track record with predicting the rise of tablets. In 2001, he asserted that "within five years [the stylus-driven Tablet PC] will be the most popular form of PC sold in America." 10 years later, tablet sales are on the rise, but it is Apple's vision of the tablet that is succeeding.



For its part, Apple revealed in January that it has seen strong demand among education customers. A number of schools (1, 2) have begun equipping their students with iPad in hopes of assisting learning.



Apple offers volume education discounts for App Store software, allowing educational institutions to purchase multiple copies of an application in bulk.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 55
    MacProMacPro Posts: 16,938member
    It makes sense for fine detailed work if an app supports it. I was wondering the other day about a painting app that actually responded to a paint brush. I wonder if an iPad could be made sensitive enough?
  • Reply 2 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


    It makes sense for fine detailed work if an app supports it. I was wondering the other day about a painting app that actually responded to a paint brush. I wonder if an iPad could be made sensitive enough?



    The trolls will claim that Apple/Jobs said that you should never use a stylus with a touch-based deivce, even though Jobs comments on that were clear. It shouldn?t be the primary way you interact with the device.



    There are clearly uses for a stylus but I think we better innovations with it from the stylus HW to the capacitance sensitivity/accuracy, and the SW that interacts with it. It needs to be integrated with the entire OS and have more pros than cons when it comes to a traditional pen/pencil if it?s ever to supplant the current educational standard.



    Imagine a student?s desk that is a touchscreen monitor that they can use to do their math tests on. The question appears and they simply write on the desk using the stylus instead of a paper and hit send when they are done, or do homework that way that can read their calculations to inform of errors and even point out where they made a mistake.
  • Reply 3 of 55
    The iPad would be an artist/illustrator's dream device.. At least for me. There's a good reason why Leonardo, Picasso, Rembrandt never used their fingers. It's just unnatural..



    Stylus plus pressure sensitivity.. Sweet..
  • Reply 4 of 55
    Oh you mean like this....



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xX-B2wG1e4



    what next, USB and SD card support? Why limit users at all?
  • Reply 5 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


    It makes sense for fine detailed work if an app supports it. I was wondering the other day about a painting app that actually responded to a paint brush. I wonder if an iPad could be made sensitive enough?



    That's funny. I had the same idea a while back. I wonder how detailed you could capture the bristles if they were made of a capacitive material. There are some good software emulators for a true brush on the app store as well though. Some might continue to argue "why?"



    I'm all for a stylus myself. Pens are natural. I wouldn't want to use one on a PC tablet like Microsoft would have you, but for artistic purposes it's needed.



    I think Apple would feel like they've made their point that an iPad is very different than a tablet PC by now that they could make a stylus without "confusing" people.



    Also, capacitive styluses continue to persist in the 3rd party market and they are all terrible therefore it would seem a good fit for Apple to make one. The best implementation I could imagine would resemble the patent cited . If the device itself were pressure sensitive and could send that information to the iPad via bluetooth it could be a very neat work around (complete fix) to the lack of pressure sensitivity of the iPad.
  • Reply 6 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bettieblue View Post


    Oh you mean like this....



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xX-B2wG1e4



    what next, USB and SD card support? Why limit users at all?



    You are kidding, right? That system is a joke. Look at the screen when the doctor is doing stuff. It looks like an app straight out of 1990!



    I love how people are always trying to say that there are problems with this Apple product or that one and someday they will have the 'cool' stuff that others have (like this post, USB, SD card). The fact is that Apple products just work. They think outside the box and give you a much better overall experience. If you want/need an SD card, then buy the HP unit. You and the four other people that have them can get together to talk about how superior the unit is. The rest of us will just get our work done.
  • Reply 7 of 55
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,667member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bettieblue View Post


    Oh you mean like this....



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xX-B2wG1e4



    what next, USB and SD card support? Why limit users at all?



    No, not like that. Like a tablet that's been properly design for touch interaction, with the possibility of a stylus for special applications. As opposed to a device that actually requires a stylus, with some touch interaction bolted on.
  • Reply 8 of 55
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,667member
    Must be dark days for the troll clan, when you're reduced to linking to a Windows tablet to make a point.
  • Reply 9 of 55
    pokepoke Posts: 506member
    "It can give you a device that you can not only read, but also create documents at the same time."



    Yeah, you can already do that with the onscreen keyboard, which is still faster than handwriting. Which analysts would stop harping on this ridiculous "the iPad is for consumption" idea that has been debunked a million times over. They get something in their heads and no amount of reality can dislodge it. The iPad is fine for taking notes. You can also sketch well enough with just your finger.



    No doubt a stylus would be nice for drawing and signing your signature, and Jobs's comment didn't rule that out (he was talking about using the stylus as the main form of input), but it's a niche use. Maybe Apple will do one, maybe they'll leave in to 3rd parties.
  • Reply 10 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bettieblue View Post


    Oh you mean like this....



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xX-B2wG1e4



    what next, USB and SD card support? Why limit users at all?



    When the tech isn't ready, Apple says "no."



    When it's ready and done to Apple's standards, it becomes a "feature."



    If Apple withholds tech from a product, there's good reason for it. Learn to trust their judgment call and you'll be happier for it in the long run.
  • Reply 11 of 55
    Thanks for proving me correct, bettieblue.
  • Reply 12 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Logisticaldron View Post


    The trolls will claim that Apple/Jobs said that you should never use a stylus with a touch-based deivce, even though Jobs comments on that were clear. It shouldn?t be the primary way you interact with the device.



    There are clearly uses for a stylus but I think we better innovations with it from the stylus HW to the capacitance sensitivity/accuracy, and the SW that interacts with it. It needs to be integrated with the entire OS and have more pros than cons when it comes to a traditional pen/pencil if it?s ever to supplant the current educational standard.



    I think the point Jobs was making is that interacting with your device should not require a stylus which is not the same as saying some programs/applications might not benefit from using a stylus.
  • Reply 13 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by penchanted View Post


    I think the point Jobs was making is that interacting with your device should not require a stylus which is not the same as saying some programs/applications might not benefit from using a stylus.



    Are you thinking I disagree with that, because that is the point I made?
  • Reply 14 of 55
    hirohiro Posts: 2,663member
    I have students that have been using styluses with iPad for quite awhile. No big deal. See'em on sale at OWC: http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Ten%2...ign/TIAP25102/



    I'm intrigued, but haven't tried one yet.
  • Reply 15 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Hiro View Post


    I have students that have been using styluses with iPad for quite awhile. No big deal. See'em on sale at OWC: http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Ten%2...ign/TIAP25102/



    I'm intrigued, but haven't tried one yet.



    Styluses for the iPad. They're okay for navigating. For drawing and writing, not that good.
  • Reply 16 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Hiro View Post


    I have students that have been using styluses with iPad for quite awhile. No big deal. See'em on sale at OWC: http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Ten%2...ign/TIAP25102/



    I'm intrigued, but haven't tried one yet.



    I use the Pogo and it works great, for what it is, but the tech in general is still too limited to be a replacement to a pen or pencil. That?s the real issue here. When we get capacitance HW and SW that can be used as accuracy as pens and pencils that will be big. fast survive writing, the ability to hit a virtual button or click the stylus to make it an eraser of what you just wrote, like inverting a pencil to erase. There are so many possibilities but we simply haven?t been able to put the pieces together yet. I think Apple is the company to do it, but we?ll need much better capacitance touch displays and a some great OS frameworks.to bring it all together.
  • Reply 17 of 55
    z3r0z3r0 Posts: 228member
    Apole probably sees tablets specifically tailored for the Education market like The Kno http://www.kno.com/ as a threat.



    It would be pretty hard to resist if publishers back it up and possibly bundle it with an online service. Book rentals, lecture capture or perhaps a learning management system.

    Tuition could be used to cover the cost.



    It's too bad Apple isn't serious about the Education market, if they were they wouldn't have discountinued the Xserve. Think about it. How will iPads and Mac desktops be managed easily? Don't tell me that you'll have to turn to a competitor's server solution running Windows or Linux! Going that route sends a bad message if Apple doesn't have confidence in it's server products then why go with their other products?



    Let your voices be heard!



    www.savethexserve.com

    www.apple.com/feedback/xserve.HTML
  • Reply 18 of 55
    Everyone needs to understand that it is the sensor density of capacitive screens that is the limiting factor regarding what you can do with a stylus. The sensors are, as the patent application says, (VERY) low resolution. Think of it this way. A Wacom tablet is between 150 to 200ppi. Resistive touchscreens are usually between 100 and 150ppi. An iPad is about 20ppi. Even an iPhone 4 is about 25ppi. You cannot sign your name accurately or make detailed brushstrokes with current technology being what it is. It's not about Apple not supporting a stylus. It's about capacitive touchscreen technology not supporting a stylus, period.



    I was intrigued by the HP Slate, as it promised to solve this problem. But it seems no one noticed.
  • Reply 19 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tonton View Post


    Everyone needs to understand that it is the sensor density of capacitive screens that is the limiting factor regarding what you can do with a stylus. The sensors are, as the patent application says, (VERY) low resolution. Think of it this way. A Wacom tablet is between 150 to 200ppi. Resistive touchscreens are usually between 100 and 150ppi. An iPad is about 20ppi. Even an iPhone 4 is about 25ppi. You cannot sign your name accurately or make detailed brushstrokes with current technology being what it is. It's not about Apple not supporting a stylus. It's about capacitive touchscreen technology not supporting a stylus, period.



    I was intrigued by the HP Slate, as it promised to solve this problem. But it seems no one noticed.



    I have always wondered why iPads had no styluses and you've clearly explained it.



    I use a Wacom pen on an Intuos instead of a mouse or trackpad with my Mac Mini. It's great in Photoshop and Illustrator, but awkward with inDesign. I imagine one day, that we will see an iPad with a larger screen and support for Illustrator and Photoshop with 150 to 200ppi for work on the road. I am sure Apple could have bought out Wacom with its extra cash and guess that this stylus accomplishes a different objective. Lets hope that advances in computer technology not make using our fingers to write, into a vestige as velcro has made shoelace-tying into a lost function. A stylus that also functioned as a remote microphone would also be nice.
  • Reply 20 of 55
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post


    When the tech isn't ready, Apple says "no."



    When it's ready and done to Apple's standards, it becomes a "feature."



    If Apple withholds tech from a product, there's good reason for it. Learn to trust their judgment call and you'll be happier for it in the long run.



    Did you pay Apple for that brainwashing or was it free? Does "Think Different" = dont thing at all?
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