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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. ty22's Avatar
      ty22 -
      Wow i'm surprised after steve's hate for stylus's.
    1. subywrex's Avatar
      subywrex -
      Hmm for some reason I find this interesting. I could definitely see some potential good out of this.
    1. Jahooba's Avatar
      Jahooba -
      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.
    1. thetoothfairy's Avatar
      thetoothfairy -
      Apple might as well do this because it will only make more customers happy in the long run that like these types of iDevices!
    1. Snozberries's Avatar
      Snozberries -
      Dear Mr. Sausage Fingers. Have I got the iAccessory for yououou!!
    1. GmAz's Avatar
      GmAz -
      FYI, they already exist and have been around for some time. These are just two of many on the market:

      ThinkGeek :: Pogo iPhone/iPad Stylus

      ThinkGeek :: Pogo Sketch iPhone/MacBook Stylus

      Oh, and for those of you that like to wear gloves and own an iShit device, buy some Conductive Thread (http://www.sparkfun.com/products/8544) That link has a large spool of it, but you can get smaller quantities too. I think Radio Shack even sells it. Sew some of it on the tip of a glove finger and you can use your device with gloves on too.
    1. wezuwiusz's Avatar
      wezuwiusz -
      Quote Originally Posted by GmAz View Post
      FYI, they already exist and have been around for some time. These are just two of many on the market:
      but Steve can say 'and boys we have patented it'

      I have seen somewhere on the net very similar to this one.
    1. Snozberries's Avatar
      Snozberries -
      Quote Originally Posted by wezuwiusz View Post
      but Steve can say 'and boys we have patented it'
      Alupen vs oStylus iPad Stylus Review [GIVEAWAY]

      look familiar?!
    1. AUZambo's Avatar
      AUZambo -
      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. hookedonkronix's Avatar
      hookedonkronix -
      Who cares. Unther JB for 4.2.1 is out. Why isn't there a post on that?
    1. AUZambo's Avatar
      AUZambo -
      Quote Originally Posted by hookedonkronix View Post
      Who cares. Unther JB for 4.2.1 is out. Why isn't there a post on that?
      I can completely see how you failed to notice it considering it was WAY WAY WAY down the page...a full three articles below this one.

      (the scroll wheel is your friend)

      Chronic Dev Team Releases greenpois0n, Untethered Jailbreak for 4.2.1

      BTW...what the heck does an untethered jailbreak have to do with a stylus? You're not making any sense at all.
    1. steve-z17's Avatar
      steve-z17 -
      Another patent...guess it was coming sometime!
    1. Zokunei's Avatar
      Zokunei -
      Quote Originally Posted by GmAz View Post
      iShit device
      Wait what?
    1. shinygerbil's Avatar
      shinygerbil -
      Quote Originally Posted by Zokunei View Post
      Wait what?
      I guess he means the device you surf the web on while you're on the toilet. What else?
    1. whereswaldo's Avatar
      whereswaldo -
      Wasn't Apple trash talking styluses when they introduced the iPhone?
    1. Gustavo Saliola's Avatar
      Gustavo Saliola -
      Seems to me like: Ehm, look at that Cintiq ha? Looks and works great...Fine, lets do it better. If becomes THAT good ot better, i'm in. In no time we'll be using the istylus in every (Touch + stylus sensitive) displays. That's a Graphic & Motion Designers rejoice!
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      Quote Originally Posted by whereswaldo View Post
      Wasn't Apple trash talking styluses when they introduced the iPhone?
      They trash talk everything that they don't think they can make money on at the time...
    1. Zokunei's Avatar
      Zokunei -
      Quote Originally Posted by sziklassy View Post
      They trash talk everything that they don't think they can make money on at the time...
      So true
    1. phluid13's Avatar
      phluid13 -
      Quote Originally Posted by whereswaldo View Post
      Wasn't Apple trash talking styluses when they introduced the iPhone?
      The original post speaks about this and provides about 3 examples of apple going back on their word.

      I also agree that steve just meant that a tablet that needs a stylus to be operated is a fail. I don't think he meant it was a fail by using one as an extension of touch screen capabilities.
    1. Zokunei's Avatar
      Zokunei -
      Well as I remember, he said "No one wants to use a stylus" when introducing his multi-touch phone for the first time.