Apple’s newly patented stylus digitizes whatever you write on any surface

FiftyThree Pencil and Paper creative process
Apple publicly eschewed the stylus for many years, and the company still hasn’t made one of its own yet, though numerous patents have appeared over the years for Apple-branded styli. Now Apple has filed yet another intriguing stylus patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). What makes it intriguing? The stylus can digitize whatever you write, no matter what surface you write it on.

The modular stylus has a variety of tips that would allow the user to write on dry erase boards, paper, touchscreens, and more. Built in accelerometers and 3D motion sensors keep track of the stylus’ motions, so as to record what you’re writing regardless of what kind of surface you’re writing on. The accelerometer can tell when the stylus is in use and when it is resting. Meanwhile, the 3D motion sensors track the stylus as it moves through the air and comes into contact with a flat surface, whether it be a piece of paper or a whiteboard.

The stylus can transmit data to your iPhone or iPad in real time if need be, or when you tell it to, so as to preserve battery life. Teachers, students, and business executives could easily use the stylus during a live presentation on a whiteboard and then save the data as a PDF on their iPad or iPhone to send out a copy to everyone after the meeting or lesson. Possible nibs include graphite, ink, touchscreen, and other writing materials.

Although other styli and smart pens like the Livescribe 3 offer similar functionality, these pens are often limited to one or two different materials, and don’t work on whatever surface you come across in the office or classroom. Of course, it’s just a patent, so Apple may never even make this cool stylus a reality. However, now that rumors of a 12 or 13-inch iPad Pro are floating around, it’s entirely possible Apple may finally deem its own stylus a necessary accessory.

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