Microsoft has never been shy in its assertions that the stylus has a place in modern computing, and researchers at the company are working on a new take on the device that would allow it to be used on almost any type of screen. Researcher Andreas Nowatzyk told MIT Technology Review that the concept, developed with his colleague Anoop Gupta, would use a camera embedded in the stylus to track the movement of individual pixels as the device slides across a screen. Mounted at an angle in the stylus, the camera would also be able to generate angle data based on how in — or out — of focus the pixels it's seeing are, with all of the information transmitted back to the host computer wirelessly.

Of course, tracking its own motion wouldn't do the device much good unless it was able to track where it was on the screen in the first place, and that's where Nowatzyk's concept pulls another optical trick. The software running the display would slightly tweak the brightness pattern of blue pixels, enough to generate a pattern-based map that the stylus could use to orient itself, but not extreme enough to be distracting to the human eye.

Such an adaptable stylus is certainly intriguing, but it's important to note that Nowatzyk's device is still far from a shipping product. According to the researcher, a new type of sensor would need to be built just in order to prototype the concept, and while he tells MIT Technology Review that groups within Microsoft are exploring the creation of such a sensor, no decisions have been made on whether to turn the concept into a true consumer product.