Apple Tries to Patent “Active Stylus” Technology

This photograph could now be considered to be the ultimate ironic statement. Back in 2007, when the iPhone was first revealed, the man who introduced the best mobile device ever invented to the world loudly proclaimed his disdain for a stylus, and even went so far as to ask who would want one.

That question is now asked and answered, and it seems that Apple wants one.

A stylus is a wonderful tool for a touch-based mobile device, but sometimes the accuracy leaves a lot to be desired. Apple is apparently trying to change that.

Indeed, on June 22, the company applied for a patent that aims to improve the efficiency, accuracy and cost-efficiency of a stylus.

Although the patent application does not mention Apple specifically, two names on the application– Jonah Harley and David Simon– are very much involved with the company. Both are engineering managers.

Such a tactic is not surprising; the tradition is that Apple permits its engineers to be shown as inventors until almost the second that the patent is granted. It is then that Apple is added to the application.

That tactic is used to throw people off the trail, so that the applications aren’t exposed unless and until it is granted. Obviously, it’s not a foolproof method.

Apple’s newest stylus-related patent application relates to an “active stylus,” as opposed to a “passive stylus,” a device that Apple explains this way: “conventional styluses are passive input devices in that they are incapable of actively transmitting stimulus signals or sensing a touch-induced capacitance change in a capacitive touch sensor panel.” In other words, they may not be as accurate as perhaps some would hope.

An active stylus, on the other hand, has “an electrode at a tip of the stylus; and powered circuitry coupled to the electrode and configured for capacitively coupling the electrode with a capacitive touch sensor panel,” according to the patent application.

In simple terms, Apple is saying that an active stylus– as pertains to their application– will improve accuracy while remaining cost-efficient. In short, it could mean more functional and more accurate styli, which begs the question: what new treats is Apple cooking in its lab?

This is not the first attempt at stylus-related patent application on Apple’s part, which makes it all the more surprising– or ironic– to some, given not only that now-prolific question in 2007, and given the fact that two years ago, Steve Jobs publicly said, “If you see a stylus, they blew it.” Has Apple “blown it,” then? Their parade of recent patent applications seems to indicate otherwise. Something very big appears to be on the horizon.

[via: CNet]