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Apple's latest patent could make the humble stylus a jack of all trades

Apple has spent much of the last decade trying to get ahead of the game with its patent applications, so it’s no real surprise that the company is looking to patent the stylus of the future, too. In a number of newly filed patents, Apple has created a pen-like device that can act as a traditional stylus, as a mouse, and even as a joystick.

The stylus might be an interactive peripheral that has risen and fallen in terms of public favor, but Apple clearly thinks it has a future. In a total of 17 patent claims (thanks Engadget), Apple envisions a stylus that not only has the usual mix of pressure sensors to give you in-depth control of your digital tool, but also six- and nine-axis inertial sensors.

Those sensors open up a whole new world of interaction for the stylus. By knowing its orientation and position, the stylus can act as a standard mouse, or even something as nuanced as a free standing joystick — just imagine yourself gripping it with a fist, rather than a dainty finger position.

Related: Apple patent could force you to put down your iPhone at ‘sensitive events’

Although Apple has applied for a patent on such a device, it is worth remembering that this is only the first stage in making such a product. For starters, the patent needs to be approved, and that’s before Apple can even begin to think about manufacturing prototypes.

If this is something Apple really plans to make, we could be years away from a final commercial release.

Of course, if that does happens, it’s unlikely to be cheap. With the current Apple Pencil already setting back buyers more than $100, we can’t imagine how much Apple’s stylus of the future would cost.