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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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  • 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.
    Reply
  • shotgunz
    "If you see a stylus, they blew it,"

    I wonder why the nintendo DS sold 160million devices worldwide then, all with a STYLUS
    Reply
  • 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.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uW-E496FXg

    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.
    Reply
  • Undertuned
    While other companies are investing in stocks and realestate to be more futureproof, it seems like Apple is investing in patents.
    Reply
  • Tomtompiper
    Another reworking of existing technology involving prior art which will be granted by a corrupt and discredited Patent office, this will be used to suppress innovation and feather the nests of lawyers.
    Reply
  • keither5150
    I guess I got my Note 2 just in time. Next they will patent active wallpaper, all of the new camera features that I am starting to love.

    Apple needs to recognize that Samsung is totally bitch slapping them when it comes to giving the people what they want.

    You can watch the movie "Hot tub time machine" to see all of the cool things from the 80's. Someday people will laugh at the phone that had a protective case with a hole cut in it so that people can see the logo.

    Leg warmers used to be cool too.
    Reply
  • w8gaming
    Stylus has one advantage finger can never replicate. Its tip is much smaller and hence can be very precise in pinpoint a small region of the surface. Current touch UI popularized by Apple suffers from the fact that too much screen area has to be reserved for interaction and reducing the available space for content. Steve Job was wrong about stylus. A good stylus implementation will move the touch UI beyond what is currently available.
    Reply
  • rosen380
    "Steve Jobs stated that the stylus was a horrible device for various reasons,"

    And not so horrible for applications that involve sketching/drawing or taking down handwritten notes. Wasn't Jobs' primary issue about *requiring* a stylus for basic use of the device?
    Reply
  • wemakeourfuture
    undertunedWhile other companies are investing in stocks and realestate to be more futureproof, it seems like Apple is investing in patents.
    This is how tech corporations have operated for decades
    Reply
  • wemakeourfuture
    rosen380"Steve Jobs stated that the stylus was a horrible device for various reasons,"And not so horrible for applications that involve sketching/drawing or taking down handwritten notes. Wasn't Jobs' primary issue about *requiring* a stylus for basic use of the device?
    Last I checked Steve Jobs is dead and not leading this product development and patent...
    Reply