This week Apple was granted 40 patents covering a Future Apple Pencil that could draw and write on a pad of paper, a wall and more+
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 44 patents that include 40 utility and 4 design patents. In this particular report we focus on a possible future Apple Pencil that could write or draw on various surfaces beyond touch displays like an iPad. Apple was also granted two iPhone 14 design patents today, and as always, we wrap up this week's granted patent report with our traditional listing of the remaining granted patents that were issued to Apple this week.
Apple Pencil with Self-Mixing Interferometry Sensors
Apple notes that an active stylus (Apple Pencil) capable of generating stylus stimulation signals that could be sensed by a touch-sensitive device such as an iPad could improve the precision of stylus input. However, the current Apple Pencil requires a touch-sensitive surface in order to generate content.
Apple's invention and granted patent relates to a future Apple Pencil that includes self-mixing interferometry (SMI) sensors that could allow it to generate content on a non-touch-sensitive surface such as a wall, a pad of paper, a table or floor.
In some examples, the SMI sensors could be used to detect characteristics of the Apple Pencil's position, orientation, and/or motion and/or force applied by the Apple Pencil's tip.
In some examples, some or all of the characteristics of Apple Pencil could be used in processing to generate content, including textual character input and three-dimensional objects.
Apple's patent FIG. 5 below illustrates a system comprising an input device #530 (Apple Pencil) and a computing system #500 (e.g., an iPad, HMD, iPhone or Mac). The computing system can comprise one or more outward facing cameras #514 that could capture Apple Pencil input on a non-touch-sensitive surface. In some examples, the Apple Pencil could make contact with non-touch-sensitive-surface #576 at point #570, draw a stroke #574, draw a shape or write text etc.
In patent FIG. 6 we see the computing system can comprise one or more light emitting components #618 (e.g., one or more infrared transmitters #218) configured to emit light (e.g., infrared light), including towards a non-touch-sensitive surface #676.
In some examples, the light emitting components could be configured to emit structured light (e.g., light having a pattern array) onto the non-touch-sensitive surface that can be detected by a light detector such as outward facing camera.
In Apple's patent FIG. 7A we see a possible future Apple Pencil configured with two SMI sensors #742a and #742b that can be configured to track displacement in two-dimensions (e.g., in an x-y plane).
Apple's patent is a technical one, to be sure. Yet without being presented with an end conclusion or a digestible marketing angle, it's a little confusing. Why would a user want to draw on a wall or pad of paper with Apple Pencil in one hand while having to hold up their iPad's camera to capture what they're writing, as portrayed in patent FIG. 5?
Apple does mention in one or two paragraphs that "computing device" #500 could be an HMD. In that context, things become a little clearer and cooler. Apple's XR Headset will contain several front facing cameras. So now the lunacy of holding up an iPad so as to use the camera to capture writing on a wall is mute. In an XR environment (AR, VR, MR) including a game, we'll naturally be able to write on any given surface with Apple Pencil and likely see what we're writing.
Then again, this is a much larger project beyond this single granted patent published today. To assist you in getting the bigger picture on Apple's project, review our 2018 and 2020 patent reports that expand the vision of this project in yet different ways. One of the common patent figures from those patents is presented below.
To review Apple's granted patent US 11614806 B1, click here.
Key Design Patents
Apple was granted two key design patents today covering iPhone 14 standard and Pro models under numbers D982005 and D982006.
Today’s Remaining Granted Patents