On December 4, 2014, we reported that the US Patent & Trademark Office had published a patent application from Apple that revealed a new stylus invention relating to an advanced signal detection and demodulation architecture. We noted in that report, that for a company that supposedly has no interest in a stylus it was amazing that this year alone they had applied for ten new pen-related patents. We noted that it was evident that Apple had plans of introducing a next-gen smart pen at some point in the future, it was only a matter of time. Closing out 2014 Apple was granted a patent for an iPen that could also Work with Paper. Today to a new rumor has surfaced that an iPen or Apple Pen is being aimed for release with Apple's large 12 or 12.9 inch iPad as an accessory sometime in the first half of 2015. How elaborate Apple's first digital pen could be is unknown at this time as Apple has a huge body of intellectual property on this area of technology as noted in our smart pen archives. One example below illustrates a smart pen that could work with a new iPad menu system and gesturing.
In October we noted that for the standalone 12 inch tablet, Apple could always introduce a smart cover with a built-in keyboard. In fact, once the iPad Air goes beyond its standard size, then adding a keyboard and/or a smart pen could come into play very easily so that the larger iPad could have a more distinct focus on students and business professionals that still want a keyboard to be productive.
Today it's being reported that KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo presented his views on a future Apple Pen:
"Given that it's more precise than a person's fingers, a stylus can be more convenient to use than the combination of keyboard and mouse in some cases. Therefore, we believe Apple's stylus will improve the user experience of 12.9-inch iPad."
"We don't think all users will need a stylus initially. Coupled with its unfavorable cost structure, high selling prices may turn consumers off if the 12.9-inch iPad is always bundled with it. We therefore expect the stylus to be an optional accessory before sufficient user feedback is received."
Looking at technical details of the stylus, Eric Slivka of Mac Rumors notes that "Kuo predicts it will charge via a Lightning connector, believing a more convenient wireless charging solution would be too expensive and require difficult antenna design that Apple will likely forego initially. Kuo also believes the initial stylus model will not include a gyroscope accelerometer, but future models could include the component to support '3D handwriting' to allow the user to write on other surfaces or even in the air."
In the end, this current rumor appears to be little more than combining ideas found in Apple's long list of patents along with the idea of a 3D pen which surfaced earlier this year. Though with most of Apple's competitors bringing pro tablets to market supporting a stylus of varying intelligence, it would be great to see Apple's technology on a truly smart pen emerge. Whether Apple's smart pen is just hope or reality is still in the air – but we'll know if this latest rumor pans out later this year.