Apple investigating stylus with extendable 'multitouch' nib, onboard light and motion sensors

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 2014
Apple has shown interest in building a new intelligent, sensor-laden stylus that could draw lines of varying widths and shapes by extending a long, extendable "nib" that interacts with a multitouch display.

Stylus


Apple's "Input device having extendable nib" describes a unique stylus with a number of different nib or tip configurations, each having its own properties for drawing on a multitouch surface like an iPad. Published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, the proposed invention also boasts on-board sensors for motion detection and a light sensor for sampling real-world colors.

Unlike current styli, Apple's invention notes that the conductive nib may have variable interaction surface dimensions dictated by length. For example, a nib can have a limited interaction surface when set to a position close to the stylus chassis for drawing thin lines. By extending the nib outside of the stylus' body, it will be able to interact with a screen at more than one touch node.

In one embodiment, the nib is flexible, meaning the further it extends away from the chassis, the less rigid it becomes. This can be useful in delivering multiple "feels," like a pen or paintbrush.

Stylus
Source: USPTO


The more a nib is exposed, the more nodes it can touch on its "sides." In such scenarios when the stylus activates more than one touch node on a multitouch screen, a different input may be registered with the tablet's GUI. A basic example is a resulting thicker line, though the input's formatting can also change, making changes like output color, opacity and more.

Moving to the nib itself, Apple envisions the piece to be made out of a conductive material like metal, doped rubber or mylar. The main function of the part is to be at least partially flexible so as to allow for slight deformation when writing or drawing.

When a user wishes to extend the nib out of the stylus body, they can use an actuator or switch mechanism integrated within the chassis. For example, a slider, button or twist cap can extend or retract the flexible nib.

Stylus


The actuator is especially important in embodiments that include multiple tips, or strands as Apple refers to them. These strands can be extended just as the usual one-piece nib, but may in some cases "fan out" to create a brush effect.

Because the filaments extend out of a single hole, the stylus may include a special collar system that changes the shape of the exit aperture. In one example, a thin slit is selected, thus forcing the strands to fan out. Other examples include a shape that forms the nib sections into a round brush.

In one embodiment, the system features light-transmissive nibs or strands through which data may pass to the touch screen or a processor on board the stylus. In this case, the touchscreen display may have cameras embedded beneath its surface to collect light information pumped out from an LED in the stylus.

Communicating via light, the stylus would be able to inform the tablet to change a line's color, engage certain patterns, change brush types and even operate system functions.

Stylus


Alternatively, the light sensor may be connected to the nib or a strand element to read light information from the display. This would allow for a number of different functions, including screen color calibration and sampling of hues from the real world that can then be applied to a digital painting, among others.

Finally, in some forms, the stylus may be kitted with a sensor suite including accelerometers, gyroscopes and other motion-sensing components that relays stylus position and angle back to host tablet. The array would be helpful in transmitting lean angle that may then output a wider stroke, mimicking the motion of a wide-tipped pen.

Apple's advanced stylus patent application was first filed for in 2012 and credits Joel S. Armstrong-Muntner as its inventor.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    irelandireland Posts: 17,584member
    I wish Apple would buy 53 and for now sell their Pencil as an optional accessory and provide an API for it for all drawing apps out there for some consistent practice in this area. And make Paper an iWork app. Numbers, Pages, Keynote, Paper. And make that team for now work away by itself inside Apple to work on more cool ideas iOS users would benefit from having them as part of every iOS device.

    Facebook are swallowing up all the great iOS dev teams. It's time Apple incorporated one of two great teams into the fold.
  • Reply 2 of 34
    pinolopinolo Posts: 91member
    I completely agree. Apple should absolutely buy 53 before any others do. It would make for a good purchase in both accessory and software. I doubt though 53 is for sale as they like their freedom. But a partnership would harm either...
  • Reply 3 of 34
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,980member
    SJ-“If you see a stylus, they blew it.”
  • Reply 4 of 34
    irelandireland Posts: 17,584member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post



    SJ-“If you see a stylus, they blew it.”

     

    For general interaction, yes, but not for drawing. For drawing or painting a stylus is superior.

  • Reply 5 of 34
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,217moderator
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    SJ-“If you see a stylus, they blew it.”

    Meaning that if you have to use a stylus as the primary way to operate a device, they blew it (like Palm or Windows CE). Having one optional for painting and drawing is not blowing it because it's entirely optional.
    a light sensor for sampling real-world colors.

    That would be very useful. Even more so if you could use it on a Mac. You could just have the pen and poke an image in a book or a physical object and then instantly push it onto a computer to use.
  • Reply 6 of 34
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,980member
    Marvin wrote: »
    Meaning that if you have to use a stylus as the primary way to operate a device, they blew it (like Palm or Windows CE). Having one optional for painting and drawing is not blowing it because it's entirely optional.

    Then why not say that?
  • Reply 7 of 34
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member

    It would be awesome if the addition of a smart stylus could turn an iPad into a full-blown, high-end artistic input tablet.  Good ones currently cost many hundreds of dollars.

  • Reply 8 of 34
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,217moderator
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    Marvin wrote: »
    Meaning that if you have to use a stylus as the primary way to operate a device, they blew it (like Palm or Windows CE). Having one optional for painting and drawing is not blowing it because it's entirely optional.

    Then why not say that?

    It's not very concise, plus a lot of things are said in context. When you take statements out of that context, they become more ambiguous. These videos are talking about the main usage of the device:


    [VIDEO]


    [VIDEO]


    Not that this should stop you going out of your way to find faults or contradictions in everything Apple does. It also helps to avoid pre-emptively assuming everything Steve said should be considered correct.
  • Reply 9 of 34
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post



    It's not very concise, plus a lot of things are said in context. When you take statements out of that context, they become more ambiguous. These videos are talking about the main usage of the device:

     

    Exactly.  Remember this is back in the annals of time when every smart phone had both a physical keyboard and a stylus and could not be operated without using one of the other.

     

    Also, this comment was made when the iPhone came out, well before the iPad.  It's the iPad that proved that "fingers only, no exceptions" is too limiting--for some use cases.

  • Reply 10 of 34
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,980member
    Marvin wrote: »
    It's not very concise, plus a lot of things are said in context. When you take statements out of that context, they become more ambiguous. These videos are talking about the main usage of the device:
    Not that this should stop you going out of your way to find faults or contradictions in everything Apple does. It also helps to avoid pre-emptively assuming everything Steve said should be considered correct.

    I personally avoid making concrete, and rigid statements because they have a way of coming back and biting me in the ass. I don't question the genius that SJ was, but allowing for future flexibility in his statements was not one of his strong suits. All my life I've never seen 'nobody' turn into 'somebody'.
  • Reply 11 of 34
    spartanspartan Posts: 21member

    They'd be better served buying Cintiq...Apple has really missed the boat on the tablet for artists...kinda crazy so oblivious they are considering their roots are Graphic Designers who were their bread and butter.

     

    Personally I'm disappointed in Apple and screwing the graphics/artists person over on the iPad. This is the perfect device and the drawing/sketching on it sucks @$$.

  • Reply 12 of 34
    spartanspartan Posts: 21member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post



    SJ-“If you see a stylus, they blew it.”

     

    Steve was kinda silly in this respect. Stylus are EXACTLY what artists use. His view was blurred on this unfortunately.

  • Reply 13 of 34
    umumumumumum Posts: 76member

    sj was not always right

     

    sometimes he was an idiot, hypocrite, fuckwit, etc., just like everyone else

     

    don't make excuses for him, live with it

  • Reply 14 of 34
    ws11ws11 Posts: 159member
    A stylus can even be handy for simple tasks such as note taking.  Typing or using a finger is tedious on a tablet.  A proper Wacom stylus can make a world of a difference and allow for the detail that a passive stylus cannot provide.  They can also be decent for browsing as they can utilize a hover/highlight feature.
  • Reply 15 of 34
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,217moderator
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    I personally avoid making concrete, and rigid statements because they have a way of coming back and biting me in the ass.

    All my life I've never seen 'nobody' turn into 'somebody'.

    Again, it's in context i.e "Nobody wants a stylus"... as the primary means to operate a mobile device. If he personally extended it to drawing then so what, that would have been his opinion. He also said "people don't read books anymore", yet they have a book store:

    http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2008/01/steve-jobs-peop/

    "It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”"

    The statement "don't read" is in the context of stats showing that a negligible amount of people read books. You are taking his words literally in order to find a contradiction that you can highlight when the flaw is that you are taking the words literally.
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    I don't question the genius that SJ was, but allowing for future flexibility in his statements was not one of his strong suits.

    How many statements of his are you basing this on? Also why would he carefully structure every statement he made in any conversation under the assumption that it would be quoted forever more? Steve's statements are often more powerful because they aren't carefully constructed but honest and genuine.
  • Reply 16 of 34
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,980member
    Marvin wrote: »
    Again, it's in context i.e "Nobody wants a stylus"... as the primary means to operate a mobile device. If he personally extended it to drawing then so what, that would have been his opinion. He also said "people don't read books anymore", yet they have a book store:

    http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2008/01/steve-jobs-peop/

    "It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”"

    The statement "don't read" is in the context of stats showing that a negligible amount of people read books. You are taking his words literally in order to find a contradiction that you can highlight when the flaw is that you are taking the words literally.
    How many statements of his are you basing this on? Also why would he carefully structure every statement he made in any conversation under the assumption that it would be quoted forever more? Steve's statements are often more powerful because they aren't carefully constructed but honest and genuine.

    There's always this one.
    .... we think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps.


    Had he said "Nobody wants a stylus as the primary means to operate a mobile device" then it wouldn't be a issue because there's flexibility in a statement like that. If you're going to stand on stage in front of the world you should carefully choose what you're going to say, because people will dissect, and analyze it many times over.
  • Reply 17 of 34
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,585member
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    There's always this one.
    Had he said "Nobody wants a stylus as the primary means to operate a mobile device" then it wouldn't be a issue because there's flexibility in a statement like that. If you're going to stand on stage in front of the world you should carefully choose what you're going to say, because people will dissect, and analyze it many times over.

    Mr Jobs was a salesman (among other things). Of course whatever it was he was promoting from Apple would be the ideal size, or interface, or display, or whatever. If a competitor offered something different it shouldn't come as surprise that he dismissed it as useless, wrong size , wrong something. He certainly wasn't going to admit to any device advantage that he didn't sell. No salesman would.
  • Reply 18 of 34
    tjduffytjduffy Posts: 28member
    I'm looking for a general all-around durable stylus any recommendations?
  • Reply 19 of 34
    ws11ws11 Posts: 159member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tjduffy View Post



    I'm looking for a general all-around durable stylus any recommendations?

    Are you asking about a passive stylus for the iPad?  What do you plan on using the stylus for?

  • Reply 20 of 34
    tjduffytjduffy Posts: 28member
    I'm sorry it's for the iPad
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