Smart pen patented by Apple
While similar devices like Livescribe's "smartpen" require special paper or a bulk form factor to house infrared lights, battery and storage, Apple's design uses low profile accelerometers to sense movement and so could be built to be smaller and last longer.
The patent, first reported by AppleInsider, describes a device that is activated when it is picked up, begins recording when a switch is pressed and can then store the pen's movements, send them to your device in timed bursts or broadcast the movements instantly to one or multiple devices.
The advantage of the design is that in addition to storing your notes to send to your device later, you could use the pen while giving a presentation and have your colleagues receive a copy of your notes in real time. Alternatively, you could draw on a notepad and have the pen output to a large digital display.
The patent also mentions the device would allow for "alternative embodiments", letting the user attach magnetometers for gathering orientation data, or allowing for different tips (for example a pencil-like graphite tip for sketching or one for writing on whiteboards).
Presumably the pen would work with a capacitive tip as well, for drawing and note-taking directly onto an iPad or iPhone, although long-time Apple followers will remember how strongly former Apple chief executive Steve Jobs felt about that.
"Who wants a stylus?!", ranted Jobs while introducing the first iPhone at the 2007 MacWorld conference. "You have to get 'em, and put 'em away. You lose 'em. Yuck! Nobody wants a stylus."
It's important to note that Apple files for patents of its inventions constantly and it doesn't necessarily take all it's designs to production (in fact this is not even the first recent Apple patent for a stylus). The patent, which was approved on Tuesday, was first filed in 2010.
Rumours earlier this year of a 12.9-inch "iPad Plus" never seemed to eventuate but, given such a device would be aimed squarely at business users, artists and designers, a stylus would make an interesting accessory.