We already know Microsoft’s plans to install a touch-sensitive clip on the Surface Pen to emulate a mouse wheel. Now another patent rears its head, this time pointing to a cool haptic feedback feature for Microsoft’s Surface-branded peripheral. That simply means you will feel sensations in your hand generated from the pen for a more life-like drawing experience.
Microsoft’s patent describes the layout of the Surface Pen tip area. For starters, the pen tip itself moves in and out of the housing based on your hand’s applied pressure. This tip relies on a “resilient element” that prevents it from falling out of the peripheral. Behind this element is a coil that serves as an electromagnet, which signals a controller to activate haptic feedback when the resilient element applies pressure to the coil.
“A surface of the substrate faces the resilient element,” the patent states. “The resilient element presses against the surface in response to the tip receding toward the housing. The resilient element includes magnetic material. The signal applied on the coil induces a magnetic driving force on the resilient element.”
In gaming, haptic feedback provides vibrations that mimic the firing of a machine gun, earth-shaking blasts from massive explosions, damage taken to the player, and so on. This physical input pulls you into those games, but with a Surface Pen, you won’t be shooting aliens or taking serious damage. Instead, haptic feedback could emulate the feel of drawing with a pen and paper, such as the amount of pressure applied to the screen, the velocity of your strokes, the angle of the pen while you’re doodling or simply feedback acknowledging your press of a button.
Microsoft’s patent spotted last week describes a modification to the Surface Pen that adds a touch-sensitive retention clip. The idea is to imitate the mouse wheel: Roll your finger down to scroll down or zoom in, and roll your finger up to scroll up and zoom out. The clip would consist of a conductive material encased with an isolating material, and connect to a capacitive sensor located within the pen.
In addition to the touch-sensitive retention clip, the patent also describes two buttons located on the barrel instead of one that will serve as the left- and right-click buttons on a mouse. That said, the patent clearly defines a stylus-like peripheral to replace the modern mouse, but Microsoft’s latest patent takes that initiative one step further by providing physical feedback.
The current Surface Pen costs $99 and is available in platinum, black, burgundy, cobalt blue, and aqua blue colors. It connects to Windows 10 devices via Bluetooth 4.0 and relies on an AAAA battery. But unlike the version described in Microsoft’s patent last week, the most-recent version consists of a single barrel button and the tail eraser button.
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