Future Apple Pencil could be used to draw on any flat surface

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited February 2018
Three Apple engineers have applied for a patent that suggests that the company is at least considering working on a new Apple Pencil, capable of being used outside the confines of an iPad, on any flat surface or in the air.




Patent Application No. 62/363,172 is titled "Content Creation Using Electronic Input Device on Non-Electronic Surfaces." In brief, the patent describes the use of an Apple Pencil-like device, in conjunction with some form of motion or orientation sensor external to the stylus on any surface, like a desktop.

Documentation associated with the patent is intentionally vague on how the implementation will be executed. In the patent, the stylus's movement can be tracked by "a motion and orientation sensor, a camera, or an electromagnetic- or sound-based triangulation scheme."

The patent doesn't limit itself to a surface. It also notes that the data generated by the pointing device can be tracked in three dimensions, without requiring contact with a surface. Other utilizations of the technology beyond just handwriting include tracing a 3d object to make a model in the computer.

Communication between the pointing device and the computer associated with the input method is not necessarily uni-directional, according to the application, possibly allowing for haptics or other information to be relayed to the user with a LED array or even a small screen.

As with all of Apple's patent applications, the concept may never come to fruition. Many of Apple's patents are placeholders, or foundational, allowing Apple the legal leverage to pursue expansion of an idea or fight claims that it had stolen another company's ideas for a future product.

U.S. patent application number 62/363,172 was filed on July 14, 2017, and made public on Jan. 18. It was first spotted by Techtastic on Monday morning.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    NY1822NY1822 Posts: 584member
    If they are granted this patent and come to market..who will be the first to take Apple to court claiming patent infringement?
    edited February 2018 mac_dogcornchipbadmonk
  • Reply 2 of 11
    Ok, I admit I didn’t read the patent. Just from the article I feel: no, no, no. You didn’t get it. The idea of a patent is NOT to be as vague as possible and to reserve your rights on something as vague as fog. The idea is to protect a very specific solution to a very specific problem. But as doctor Evil once said “oh. I don’t know. Who am I”. 
    StrangeDaysrandominternetperson
  • Reply 3 of 11
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,573member
    It looks like a potential evolution of Face ID sensor tech. It makes me wonder if future Macs could watch finger movements above the keyboard and mouse to execute actions with efficiency and precision.
  • Reply 4 of 11
    Ok, I admit I didn’t read the patent. Just from the article I feel: no, no, no. You didn’t get it. The idea of a patent is NOT to be as vague as possible and to reserve your rights on something as vague as fog. The idea is to protect a very specific solution to a very specific problem. But as doctor Evil once said “oh. I don’t know. Who am I”. 
    Yeah this rankled me as well. Patents are not for ideas (“flying car”) but are for specific implementations (how your anti-grav engine works). If this is as vague as the article suggests it ought not be a patent. 
  • Reply 5 of 11
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,209administrator
    Ok, I admit I didn’t read the patent. Just from the article I feel: no, no, no. You didn’t get it. The idea of a patent is NOT to be as vague as possible and to reserve your rights on something as vague as fog. The idea is to protect a very specific solution to a very specific problem. But as doctor Evil once said “oh. I don’t know. Who am I”. 
    Yeah this rankled me as well. Patents are not for ideas (“flying car”) but are for specific implementations (how your anti-grav engine works). If this is as vague as the article suggests it ought not be a patent. 
    Link is in the article. Go look. It's pretty hand-wavy.
  • Reply 6 of 11
    Such a "pencil" could also be used for 3-D coordinate input with sufficient sensors.
  • Reply 7 of 11
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,005member
    Ok, I admit I didn’t read the patent. Just from the article I feel: no, no, no. You didn’t get it. The idea of a patent is NOT to be as vague as possible and to reserve your rights on something as vague as fog. The idea is to protect a very specific solution to a very specific problem. But as doctor Evil once said “oh. I don’t know. Who am I”. 
    Yeah this rankled me as well. Patents are not for ideas (“flying car”) but are for specific implementations (how your anti-grav engine works). If this is as vague as the article suggests it ought not be a patent. 
    Link is in the article. Go look. It's pretty hand-wavy.
    No pun intended?

    Still I would be very keen to see this happen. Even if the patent does get knocked back for being overly broad.
    edited February 2018 fastasleep
  • Reply 8 of 11
    Ok, I admit I didn’t read the patent. Just from the article I feel: no, no, no. You didn’t get it. The idea of a patent is NOT to be as vague as possible and to reserve your rights on something as vague as fog. The idea is to protect a very specific solution to a very specific problem. But as doctor Evil once said “oh. I don’t know. Who am I”. 
    Yeah this rankled me as well. Patents are not for ideas (“flying car”) but are for specific implementations (how your anti-grav engine works). If this is as vague as the article suggests it ought not be a patent. 
    Link is in the article. Go look. It's pretty hand-wavy.
    With a patent now granted, Apple may in the future apply for continuations.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuing_patent_application#Continuation


  • Reply 9 of 11
    LatkoLatko Posts: 252member
    This is what others such as Lightscribe already use for years. Apple is increaingly fighting its own "partners" and it has become a warehouse of unused, defensive patents only to lower innovation to its own slow pace.
    edited February 2018 williamlondon
  • Reply 11 of 11
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,115member
    NY1822 said:
    If they are granted this patent and come to market..who will be the first to take Apple to court claiming patent infringement?
    Medtronic has used similar technology for CT/MRI guided surgery for years. It's basically the same technology - there's a probe of known/precise dimensions that has reflectors on it. After you calibrate it, a pair of infrared cameras with light sources then triangulates off of these points to match the probe tip with a point on the radiographic image. Apple may try to patent other ancillary parts of the technology like pen orientation, but the basic technology has been around for several years and is presumably already patented.


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