Apple has obtained a new patent for a Communicating Stylus or a smart pen that can detect hand movements, translate them into digital text and drawings, and display them the screen of a computing device such as an iPad.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded the patent for Communicating Stylus to Apple vide Patent No. 8,922,530 filed on January 2010 and lists Aleksander Pance of California US as the inventor. This stylus can be used for writing or drawing on any kind of surface such as a paper or a white board. It tracks whatever the user is writing and transmits it to a computing device via Bluetooth.
The Communicating Stylus uses motion sensors and accelerometers to detect and transmit handwritten matter. It can also store data for uploading later. This is especially useful for taking notes which can be transferred to an iOS device later on. The stylus can also find good use in a classroom where the teacher can write on paper or white board and the matter can be displayed on a large digital screen or on student’s iPads.
The stylus or smart pen gets activated when it is picked up, pressed to a surface, withdrawn from its dock or turned on manually. As the user moves the stylus to write or draw, the accelerometers track its movement and store it. The recorded data is then sent to the computing device continuously or in bursts as the user wishes. The stylus has different nibs for writing with graphite, ink or any other material. It will also have a capacitive version which can be used to write directly on an iPhone or iPad.
Smart pens have been developed by several companies, one of them being Livescribe’s smart pen ‘Livescribe 3’ which has some of the features of Apple’s Communicating Stylus. It has an infra-red camera in its tip to capture the handwriting which is then stored or transmitted via Bluetooth to a digital device. However, it requires special paper, bigger chassis and lots of power.
It is worth noting that Apple keeps filing for patents for its various inventions and not all see the light of the day. Although Steve Jobs was against the use of stylus, Apple has filed several patents for stylus till date. Maybe Apple has changed its mind about the stylus now. We’ll have to wait and see if this Communicating Stylus actually goes into production.