Locating a lost Apple Pencil may be possible in the future thanks to recent Apple research on incorporating acoustic resonators within the stylus — but it would have to be very close to the owner to work.
On Thursday, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published an Apple patent application that illustrates a system with the potential to incorporate Apple's stylus into the Find My network for tracking purposes. While many Apple devices have tracking features for Find My, the Apple Pencil hasn't yet had the capability.
"Locating a lost stylus, or other peripheral input device can be made possible by acoustic resonators integrated within housing structures of the stylus," Apple said. "Acoustic resonators can be formed at an end of the stylus opposite its tip, and can include portions of the stylus outer housing that are thinned down to an engineered thickness that has a particular resonant behavior or frequency."
An acoustic resonator is a device or structure designed to resonate or vibrate in response to sound waves or acoustic energy. It is typically constructed to enhance or amplify specific frequencies or wavelengths of sound.
According to Apple's patent application, there is a method outlined in which an iPhone generates a sound that interacts with the resonators of the Apple Pencil, resulting in vibrations. The acoustic resonators, including a resonant diaphragm, would be located in the cap of the Pencil.
When activated, these resonators would produce a sound that could help users locate a misplaced Apple Pencil. The cap covering would have openings to allow for changes in air pressure caused by the vibrations of the diaphragm, which would be necessary for the sound to be produced and emitted from the Pencil.
In contrast to products like AirPods, this approach of locating an Apple Pencil would only be applicable when it is nearby. However, considering the limited space available within the Apple Pencil, this technology could be one of the only solutions.
For example, it won't be of much assistance if users leave their Apple Pencil behind in a hotel room. However, if you frequently drop your Apple Pencil on the floor or misplace it amidst piles of papers, the technology described could be immensely beneficial.
The Apple inventors included in the patent application include Sedat Pala, a Haptic Hardware Design Engineer, Mia Shin who is an Engineering Manager, and engineer Jere Charles Harrison.