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  • Apple Patents the 'iStylus'

    Put it in the "maybe someday, maybe never" file. A patent originally filed for by Apple in 2008 shows the company's work on a unique stylus for touchscreen devices. Although Steve Jobs has been famously dismissive of styluses, this one is pretty different: equipped with a pivoting disk on the tip, pressure sensors, and even an accelerometer, it could enable new applications in digital art and gaming.

    Steve Jobs has shown down through the years that he's not afraid of totally contradicting his previous statements. Back in 2004, he said Apple would never build a handheld video player, just a year before the fifth generation iPod was released with video capabilities. He said that tablets were "only good for surfing the web on the toilet," before Apple revolutionized the tablet with the iPad. And at the iOS 4 event last year, he reiterated his earlier comment about styluses and touchscreen OSes, saying that "if you see a stylus, they blew it."

    The stylus described in this patent isn't a replacement for fingertip touch, though, but rather an extension of it. In the context of Jobs's remarks about styluses, it's clear that what he was talking about is interfaces that need a pointing device. This stylus extends what users can do with touch in several ways. First, the stylus would have pressure sensors that would allow the device to do different things - such as making a brushstroke bolder - depending on how hard you press against the touchscreen. The stylus itself would send this pressure information to the device via WiFi or Bluetooth. Secondly, the stylus has an accelerometer, so that the device could sense what angle you're holding the stylus at, allowing for more complex interaction in graphics and gaming apps. And the stylus also has a removable disc on the tip so that the stylus could be used in contexts where the software is expecting a fingertip rather than a pinpoint contact. The patent also describes the possibility of buttons or switches along the stylus's shaft to change modes.

    As always, it's possible that Apple is just "parking" this patent, reserving the rights to it with no real intention of bringing a product to market, just collecting royalties if someone else does. However, with the iPad gaining in popularity as a graphics device, the addition of a multi-function stylus with full OS support could broaden its appeal immensely... not to mention being a boon to people with fat fingers.

    Source: Patently Apple
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple Patents the 'iStylus' started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 27 Comments
    1. Zokunei's Avatar
      Zokunei -
      Quote Originally Posted by DRFP View Post
      Something else for me to loose!
      Oh yeah he said that too.
    1. Calypto's Avatar
      Calypto -
      I think iDevices are fine without a stylus, unless you have dirty fingers...
    1. Evilsaint's Avatar
      Evilsaint -
      Quote Originally Posted by AUZambo View Post
      As an avid photographer and photoshop user, I can see a definite advantage to having a stylus.

      Full-fledged photoshopping on an iPad makes me drool. It'd be like a Wacom tablet on steroids.
    1. Monkey Johannon's Avatar
      Monkey Johannon -
      Having used a drawing tablet with my macbooks for years now, i'm stoked about this announcement...i hope it's precise.
    1. jacob9706's Avatar
      jacob9706 -
      I could only see this being a good thing on an iPad... But I don't see this taking off as an individual item.... If I knew better I would say apple would give one with the iPad 2 but apple doesn't give out anything free.
    1. EskimoRuler's Avatar
      EskimoRuler -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jahooba View Post
      The iPad could revolutionize art if it had a stylus. A long time ago I posted a comment saying that I will buy an iPad when it has a stylus. I still stand by that comment.
      i think would be true, even just writing, i use a stylus with my ipad for taking notes in class and it works well, as long as your using Notes Plus, but if it could better than that would be awesome
    1. StealthBravo's Avatar
      StealthBravo -
      I use a stylus all the time