Microsoft has applied for a patent on a technology related to a 3D electromagnetic stylus. According to Tom’s Hardware, a stylus of this nature would work by recognizing specific configurations of electromagnetic fields in a display device. The fields would be created by a set of transmitting coils underneath the screen. The stylus’ presence in the electromagnetic field would be translated and sent to the display, which would be able to analyze the data and know the exact positioning of the pen.
The principles at work are similar to those found in a 3D mouse, but Microsoft’s paperwork for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office did not include any examples of specific uses for the 3D data input stylus. The most obvious use would be for collaborating on business teams in different locations. In that situation, the stylus would allow a remote employee to still be active in working and brainstorming with teammates. There isn’t as clear a need for casual users, but it’s entirely possible that Microsoft will be cooking up something amazing in the next few years with this technology.
Different takes on 3D tech have been receiving extra attention among the forward-thinking. Use of 3D in movies has finally become less of a craze, but 3D printing is a field continuing to make large and fascinating strides. And of course, this hypothetical stylus isn’t Microsoft’s first 3D rodeo either. The Kinect, which has the same principle of using 3D data input, was one of the earliest and most successful motion controllers. In the Kinect’s case, the sensors are picking up a human body instead of a stylus. So even though there aren’t any definite applications of a 3D stylus yet, you can bet that the creative people who can turn the Kinect into a Holodeck or a modern art piece will find fun things to do with it.
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