Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals their work on bringing the Apple Pencil to the Mac via a future version of their Magic Trackpad. The Apple Pencil is also being designed to work with in-air gestures to allow users to control presentation slides in Keynote or turn pages in Apple's Pages or MS Office displayed on a monitor of room display. And one more thing: Apple Pencil will work as a joystick for games, act as sword or wand and much more.
Apple's Invention: Stylus with Inertial Sensor
According to Apple's patent filing, a future version of the Apple Pencil referred to as "The stylus," may be used to provide input for controlling external electronic equipment. The electronic equipment may have a touch sensor that receives electromagnetic signals from electrodes at the first end of the stylus.
The touch sensor may be part of a touch screen display in the electronic equipment that may be used in controlling a separate display in the electronic equipment. Wireless circuitry in the stylus may be used to wirelessly transmit sensor data from the stylus to the electronic equipment.
The stylus may have a six-axis inertial sensor at the second end of the body. One or more force sensors may be located in the body. For example, a force sensor at the first end may be used to detect when a user presses the tip of the stylus against the touch sensor.
User input from the force sensors, the inertial sensor, and other input-output devices may be used to supply the stylus with mode change commands. The stylus and electronic equipment may transition between operating modes such as a touch sensor mode and one or more inertial sensor modes in response to the mode change commands.
In the touch sensor mode, the signals provided by the electrodes may be used to supply the touch sensor with touch input from the stylus. The touch input may be used, for example, to draw lines on the display in a drawing application.
In the inertial sensor mode, inertial sensor data may be gathered by the inertial sensor and wirelessly transmitted to the electronic equipment. The inertial sensor allows the stylus to operate as a joystick, a rotational controller, or other input devices in addition to serving as a touch sensor input device. For example, on-screen content may be rotated, tilted, or otherwise manipulated using rotational controller and joystick input from the inertial sensor as noted below in patent FIG. 7 below in conjunction with a next-gen version of Apple's Magic Trackpad.
Apple Pencil for Gaming & Beyond
This future version of the Apple Pencil will also work as a joystick for gamers. Apple notes that in a game application, the Apple Pencil will be able to be used as a sword, a wand, or a hammer, for example.
Apple Pencil could also work with a future version of GarageBand where the motion data that is received from Apple Pencil will allow it to be used as a drum stick, a xylophone mallet, a gong beater, a conductor's baton, or other musical instruments.
When running business presentation software, Apple Pencil will be able to work with productivity software and "used as an air mouse" to move cursors such as a pointer and with motion gestures gathered with Apple Pencil may be used to flick forwards and backwards through pages in a presentation document.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an illustrative stylus and electronic equipment with a touch sensor; FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an illustrative stylus being used to provide inertial sensor input to a device with a display; FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an illustrative stylus that is being rotated to rotate an on-screen object on a touch screen display; FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an illustrative display on which an object is being rotated using rotational input from a stylus.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of an illustrative stylus and external equipment; FIG. 9 is a diagram illustrating operations involved in gathering and using different types of input from a stylus.
Apple patent application 20160139690 was originally filed in Q4 2014. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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