Future Apple Pencil may feature full touch-sensitive controls
Alongside the existing double-tap feature, Apple Pencil may gain the ability to recognize gestures such as swiping, via a more comprehensive touch-sensitive control.
Apple Pencil 2 added the ability for a user to select items or change modes by double-tapping on a panel on the stylus's body. A new Apple patent proposes having a flexible sensor positioned at the user's fingertips, which can receive tactile inputs.
"Tactile input can be received at the user's natural grip location," says Apple in US Patent No 20200012358, "Touch-based input for stylus".
"Furthermore, the stylus can effectively distinguish between tactile inputs from a user and disregard sustained tactile inputs that are provided while the user simply holds the stylus at the user's natural grip location," it continues.
The patent points out that when someone is using the Apple Pencil, or any stylus, they are unlikely to be simultaneously touching the screen of an iPad or similar device.
"[While] the user is holding a stylus or other touch-based input device, the user may be limited to the input options provided thereby," it says. "Accordingly, additional input capabilities that are integrated into the input device would provide the user with expanded input capabilities without the need to simultaneously operate additional input devices."
In order to achieve this, the Pencil would have a "low profile" sensor, such as a capacitive sensing device, added.
"Tactile input can be received at the user's natural grip location," it continues. "Furthermore, the stylus can effectively distinguish between tactile inputs from a user and disregard sustained tactile inputs that are provided while the user simply holds the stylus at the user's natural grip location."
This patent application follows others concerning the base and tip of a stylus like the Apple Pencil, many of which even utilize the same drawings.
In December 2019, one such patent concerned how the stylus of an Apple Pencil could better simulate the feel of drawing on paper, using haptic feedback. A similar 2015 one concerned the same aim but concerning the whole stylus.
Another example, also from December 2019, has the stylus using a camera to decipher and record physical characteristics of a surface.
The eight inventors credited on the new patent have together a history of many such patents regarding styluses, tips and communication.