Apple has filed for a patent on an "active stylus," a stylus with an active electronic component intended to reinvent the way styli work. The invention features a stylus with an electrode in the tip that communicates directly with the touchscreen device in question.
Patent Figure for an Active Stylus
Apple's abstract described the invention as a stylus that, "includes 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."
The powered circuitry can then, "include drive circuitry configured to output a drive voltage at the electrode and/or sense circuitry configured to sense a voltage received at the electrode."
Another Patent Figure
The filing argued that current styli are inherently inaccurate, and that its invention would improve the way they work. "When a stylus has been used as an input device in a capacitive touch system, the stylus has traditionally been finger-like in nature," Apple wrote in its application.
The patent wasn't filed in Apple's name, but PatentlyApple discovered the patent and noted that the two inventors named in the filing are both employees of Apple. More specifically, Engineering Manager Jonah Harley and Hardware Engineering Manager David Simon are listed as the inventors, and Apple can take assignment for the patent before it is granted.
Apple files many patents for technologies that may not actually come to market, but PatentlyApple also noted that the practice of filing patents under the names of its engineers until the last minute often goes along with products that do eventually ship.