Apple aims to Advance Apple Pencil with a new Color Sensor System to provide more accurate color selecting
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to a future Apple Pencil with a new light sensor system that will provide a superior method of accurately selecting color for a drawing program.
Apple notes that computer drawing programs often contain color picker tools. A color picker tool can be used to select a desired brush color from a palette of available colors.
It can be challenging to select colors accurately using color pallets, particularly when a user is interested in matching a brush color in a drawing program to the actual color of a real-world object. Ambient lighting conditions may affect the user's perception of the color of the real-world object and display color issues may affect the user's ability to accurately select brush colors from a pallet on a display.
Apple's invention and solution covers a future Apple Pencil that will include a light sensor system. The electronic device (Apple Pencil) may have an elongated housing such as a cylindrical housing that extends along a longitudinal axis. The light sensor system may make measurements on an external object. These measurements may be used in a drawing program or other computer program.
For example, light sensor system measurements may be used in drawing and otherwise recreating real-world objects in a computer environment. A light detector in the light sensor system may be aligned with the longitudinal axis of the elongated housing. The light sensor system may have a light source formed from a ring of light-emitting diodes surrounding the light detector.
In some configurations, the light sensor system may have a light source that is aligned with the longitudinal axis surrounded by a ring-shaped light detector.
Polarizer structures may be incorporated into the light sensor system. The polarizer structures may include one or more linear polarizers, circular polarizers, electrically adjustable polarizers such as electrically adjustable rotatable polarizers, and/or other polarizer structures.
Control circuitry in the device may control the polarization of emitted light from the light source. For example, the control circuitry may control the light source so that different polarizations of light are emitted at different times. The light detector may measure the emitted light of the different polarizations after the emitted light has interacted the external object. The control circuitry may process signals from the light detector that are gathered under different polarizations to discriminate between specular and non-specular reflections from the external object.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 below is a cross-sectional view of an illustrative electronic device such as a stylus (Apple Pencil); FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional diagram of a tip of an illustrative stylus having polarizer structures.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 below is an end view of an illustrative light source and sensor polarizer arrangement for a stylus of the type shown in FIG. 3; FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative elongated device such as a stylus illustrating possible housing sidewall tapering arrangements for the tip of the stylus.
Apple further notes that optional optical components (#80 - e.g., a lens, diffuser, polarizer, retarder, filter, etc.) may be located in alignment with longitudinal axis and the light detector. Light source #62 may have an array of light-emitting devices that surround detector #64 in a ring (as an example). During operation, light detector may measure reflected light within field-of-view (FOV).
For finer details, review Apple's patent application 20210041288. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.