When describing Apple Pencil, Apple states that you could draw lines of any weight by just applying pressure. "Within its slender case are intricate and accurate pressure sensors, capable of measuring a range of forces. The carefully positioned sensor determines precisely how hard the tip of Apple Pencil is being pressed down. Press harder to draw thicker lines. Or use a gentle touch for wispy hairlines. The variety of creative effects is virtually limitless." Today Apple's force-sensing Apple Pencil patent surfaced at the U.S. Patent Office.
Apple's invention covers Apple Pencil (a stylus) which includes an apparatus and system for detecting the amount of force exerted by a user on a touch-sensitive surface or other surface and, in particular, with respect to a portable electronic device such as the iPad Pro. The stylus may include a force sensor contained within or attached to the stylus which senses the force exerted by a user in three dimensions on a surface over which the stylus is moved. The sensor may be contained within the stylus or may otherwise be associated with the stylus.
One embodiment utilizes a strain gauge in a stylus to sense force exerted by a user using a stylus in both axial and radial vectors. By sensing the force vectors, the amount of force sensed by the touch-sensitive surface in a portable electronic device may be adjusted such that the quality of a line made by the user with the stylus may be adjusted to be uniform. That is, the force sensor may compensate for uneven force vectors so as to make the touch-sensitive surface sensors generate a uniform line image on the touch-sensitive surface. The determination of the force vectors may also be useful in other functions of the stylus.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 noted above depicts a stylus contacting a surface and showing force vectors exerted by the stylus on the surface; FIG. 6 illustrates a second view of the tip portion of a stylus; FIG. 7 illustrates a force sensor assembly; FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the force sensor taken through line 8-8 in FIG. 7; FIG. 12 illustrates a strain gauge assembly when axial force is exerted by the stylus; FIG. 13 illustrates a strain gauge assembly when radial force is exerted by the stylus
While we're on the topic of force sensing, Apple filed a continuation patent for a force sensing Magic Mouse. Apple updated their patent claims and nothing more. The original patent was filed in 2014. In today's update, Apple cancelled the original 20 patent claims and set 19 new ones.
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