Apple’s Patent Applications Reveal Optical and Haptic Styluses

Source: Apple's new iPad/ Apple

In a patent application discovered by AppleInsider this week, it seems that Apple is showing interests in different kinds of styluses that will be compatible for iPad and iPhone. This includes an optical stylus and a handheld pointer with haptic feedback.

Entitled as Optical Stylus the first patent application shows a camera pressure sensor for a more precise control. On the other hand, the Haptic Input Device is a pen that could receive input from a touch-based device.

Optical Stylus

Apple’s patent application showed an optical stylus and noted that traditional, plastic styluses can’t be used to register an input on a capacitive screen. The good thing about this pointer is that it provides a precise user control because it has a point that is smaller than a finger tip.

The company’s optical stylus will boast a camera sensor that would locate and determine its movement. It could be configured to either transmit the location and movement to the device or process it before transmitting a raw data.

“The relative position of the optical stylus may be determined based on indicia detectable by the optical stylus. The indicia may further be used in determining the movement of the optical stylus. The indicia may include pixel dependent indicia that are communicated via the pixels displayed by the touch screen or physical or permanent indicia that are physically present on or in the screen…. (that) are imperceptible to the human eye.”

Haptic Input Device

Apple noted in its filing that users can only feel a rigid surface of a traditional touchscreen device. The haptic stylus can help them sense textures, individual icons and other objects that are digitally represented on the screen.

“An input device capable of generating feedback may help a user navigate content displayed on the screen, and may further serve to enhance the content of various applications by creating a more appealing and realistic user interface.”

Previously, the company has shown interest in haptic stylus for its iOS devices in its patent applications. A patent application filed last March revealed a concept that would use actuators to provide haptic feedback and measure a force whenever a user touches an iPad or iPhone screen. Another application, which was filed earlier this week, described a system that would enable users to feel textures with their fingertips.


Although Apple’s patent filings show interest on having styluses for their touchscreen devices, it has been dismissed because of the company’s disparaging comment about stylus-driven interfaces. As what the late CEO Steve Jobs said, “If you see a stylus, they blew it.”

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