Apple Patents A Stylus...Yes, A Stylus
May 25, 2012

Apple Patents A Stylus…Yes, A Stylus

Michael Harper for

Never one to mince words, Steve Jobs always let us know when he thought another piece of technology was insufficient or, to put it mildly, crap.

Take for instance, a little run-in Jobs had with ESPN president George Bodenheimer in 2006. The two men were at the first Disney board meeting after the company had just bought Pixar. Bodenheimer saw Jobs in the hallway and thought he would introduce himself. As the story goes, Bodenheimer said, “I am George Bodenheimer, I run ESPN.”

Jobs´ response? “Your phone is the dumbest {redacted} idea I have ever heard,” as he turned and walked away. That phone was, of course, the short lived ESPN branded Samsung flip phone.

More to the point, when Apple released their iPhone in 2007, Steve Jobs famously pulled no punches when it came to the issue of phones and styluses.

“Who wants a stylus. You have to get em and put em away, and you lose em. Yuck. Nobody wants a stylus.”

So, you can understand how surprised some people are to discover Apple has been researching stylus-based ways to interact with their devices.

According to, this isn´t the first time such a patent has popped up from Apple. In a post from nearly a year ago, Apple filed for a patent for a “Stylus for touchscreen devices,” or a stylus for a capacitive touchscreen. The second application from a year ago describes a “smarter” stylus called a “communicating stylus.”

This patent describes a stylus equipped with motion sensors, data storage and wireless transmission chips, allowing the user to write on any surface – a white board, a piece of paper, the coffee table, etc – and what´s written is transmitted to your device.

Now, the folks at have discovered 2 more new patents for a stylus to be used with a touchscreen device.

The first patent describes an “optical stylus,” equipped with a camera at the tip. According to the site, as the stylus moves around the screen, the optical camera looks for specially formatted pixels which would normally be undetectable by the human eye, making it more of a precise input device.

These patents also allow for the addition of haptic feedback on these styluses, giving users a tactile feel and response when they interact with their devices. There have been many rumors and patent applications which suggest Apple has been researching the use of haptic feedback in their devices. As in the case of this new proposed stylus, the haptics could be sent from the bezel of your device to the stylus.

According to, the patent application says, “An input device capable of generating haptic feedback may help a user navigate content displayed on the display screen, and may further serve to enhance the content of various applications by creating a more appealing and realistic user interface. "Haptic feedback" may be any tactile feedback. Examples include forces, vibrations, and/or motions that may be sensed by the user.”

Apple doesn´t achieve their high level of success with their devices on whims and chances. Just like any other company, they have to try out multiple versions and iterations of every device. Furthermore, Apple may very well want to develop this technology so as to sell it to someone who wants it later.

As such, while these patent applications have been filed, it is unlikely the next iPhone or iPad will be shipped with a stylus.