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Apple Invents a Digital Pen with Dynamic Visual Indicators

While Apple's late CEO Steve Jobs wasn't a big fan of the "dumb stylus" of yesteryear when he first introduced the iPhone back in 2007, he knew that one day the technology would give rise to an advanced iPen that would finally provide iDevice users with true to life writing capabilities on an iPhone or iPad. While Microsoft, Samsung and others have offered digital pens for many years, Apple has been quietly working on an advanced digital pen. Their R&D in this area has been extensive as you'll find reviewing our smart pen archives. Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published yet another patent application from Apple regarding a digital pen. This invention adds dynamic visual indicators such as a battery indicator and more. Apple also hints that they could add a projector to this new pen. As one of Apple's longest standing projects to date, there's still hope that one of these days we'll see what a smart pen could really do.


Apple's Patent Background


Many types of input devices may be used to provide input to computing devices, such as buttons or keys, mice, trackballs, joysticks, touch screens and the like. Touch screens, in particular, are becoming increasingly popular because of their ease and versatility of operation. Typically touch screens on interfaces can include a touch sensor panel, which may be a clear panel with a touch-sensitive surface, and a display device that can be positioned behind the panel so that the touch-sensitive surface substantially covers the viewable area of the display device. Touch screens allow a user to provide various types of input to the computing device by touching the touch sensor panel using a finger, stylus, or other object at a location dictated by a user interface being displayed by the display device. In general, touch screens can recognize a touch event and the position of the touch event on the touch sensor panel, and the computing system can then interpret the touch event in accordance with the display appearing at the time of the touch event, and thereafter can perform one or more actions based on the touch event.


Some input devices, such as styli, allow a user to use the input device as a pen or pencil and "write" on the touch screen or other input-ready display. Often the output of a stylus, as displayed on the screen, may be varied. For example, the color or line thickness corresponding to the input of the stylus may be varied. These variations are typically done by the computing device and thus the user may not know what the output of the input device will be until the output is displayed on the screen.


Apple Invents a Digital Pen with Dynamic Visual Indicators


Apple's patent generally relates to a digital pen that provides dynamic visual indicators. The pen includes a body, a visual output element, and a processing element in communication with the visual component. The processing element dynamically changes a graphic displayed by the visual component to correspond to presentation data corresponding to the input device as provided to the computing device. The dynamic changes in the icon provide indication to a user regarding one or more characteristics of presentation data of the input device.


Another example of the disclosure includes a stylus for providing input to a computing device in communication with a screen. The stylus includes a body configured to be gripped or held in the hand of a user, a tip connected to a first end of the body, and a display connected to the body, the display providing a visual output including a graphic. The graphic on the display changes dynamically to correspond to an output of the stylus on the screen.


Yet another example of the disclosure includes an input system. The input system includes a computer having a processor, a touch screen in communication with the processor, and a stylus configured to communicate with the computer via the touch screen. The stylus includes a body configured to be gripped by a user, a tip connected to a first end of the body, and an graphic display connected to the body, the graphic display providing a visual output including a graphic, wherein the graphic corresponds to an output of the stylus on the touch screen.


Apple's patent FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a system including an iPad and a digital pen communicating with each other. Apple FIGS. 2A,B and C present various angles of the digital pen.



The digital pen will allow users to write or paint with variable brushes and colors.




A Projector Feature


The first Apple patent to mention a projector and/or a laser pointer feature for a future digital pen was back in February of this year when we discovered one of Apple's European patent filings that never surfaced in the U.S. That spectacular invention was one of the best digital pen inventions filed by Apple. You could review it here for more details and graphics.


In today's patent filing Apple notes that the digital pen may include a projection component or the like that projects a visual output for the computing device onto another object or the like (e.g., holograph or projection screen).


Patent Credits


Apple credits Christopher Stringer as the sole inventor of patent application 20140340318 which was originally filed in Q2 2013. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.


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