Apple Applies For Patent Relating to 'Active Stylus' Technology

Apple has filed for a patent that the company believes will improve the overall functionality of a stylus.

Entitles "Active Stylus," the technology details how a stylus, which sports an electrode at the tip, can interact with a "capacitive touch sensor panel", as well as allowing users to interact on menus, buttons and text fields.

The technology won't essentially reinvent the stylus, but Apple is attempting to improve accuracy while maintaining costs.

"Unlike conventional styluses which work passively by blocking electric field lines between the drive and sense electrodes of a capacitive touch sensor panel, the styluses disclosed in the various embodiments of this disclosure can either act as a drive electrode to create an electric field between the drive electrode and the sense lines of a mutual capacitive touch sensor panel, or as a sense electrode for sensing capacitively coupled signals from one or more stimulated drive rows and columns of the touch sensor panel or both," the patent reads.

"Accordingly, the styluses disclosed herein can be referred to as active styluses in comparison to conventional passive styluses. These active styluses can significantly improve stylus sensing on a mutual capacitive touch sensor panel without incurring significant additional cost."

The patent application itself doesn't mention Apple. Patently Apple, however, found that the two men filing for it -- Jonah Harley and David Simon -- are both engineering managers at the firm.

Apple is said to allow its engineers to be credited and listed as the sole inventors until just before a patent is granted, which is when Apple adds its name. The move is designed to predominately hide the patent from outsiders.

The company is known to have been actively working on stylus technology for a number of years. During 2012, it filed for a patent for a stylus that would provide haptic feedback. Preceding that was the application for two other patents relating to stylus input on capacitive touch screens.

Apple's late co-founder Steve Jobs had expressed his disinterest for the need of a stylus. He said that a stylus bundled with a product subsequently meant it was a failed device. "If you see a stylus, they blew it," he stated during an Apple event in 2010.

Samsung, one of Apple's main competitors, is one consumer electronics manufacturer who opts for bundling a stylus with a number of its products. The Galaxy Note series includes a stylus, with the latest Note smartphone having sold over five million units.


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    Top Comments
  • shotgunz
    "If you see a stylus, they blew it,"

    I wonder why the nintendo DS sold 160million devices worldwide then, all with a STYLUS
  • Other Comments
  • Gundam288
    Please let me know when Apple patents breathing as it looks to me like that is going to happen soon given Apple's recent patent spree.
  • shotgunz
    "If you see a stylus, they blew it,"

    I wonder why the nintendo DS sold 160million devices worldwide then, all with a STYLUS
  • ibnmuhammad
    Surprising how quickly people forget history.
    Steve Jobs stated that the stylus was a horrible device for various reasons, I think one of the first times he publicly said this was in 2007 when the iPhone was announced.

    Android lovers forget that Samsung/Google are also patent-happy.

    Like them or not, the only reason we hear of Apple's patents is because they're currently the "darling" of the Wall Street because it's currently one of the most interesting companies at the forefront of tech.
    i.e. PowerMac, Airbook (ultrabook), iPhone, iPad, etc.

    I personally think without Steve Jobs, Apple is a dying company.