Apple has filed a patent for a stylus that works on any surface, not just touch-sensitive ones, and would allow users to also draw doodles in midair. The patent application describes a pen that can be monitored by a force sensor in the tip or tracked using motion and orientation sensors, a camera, or “an electromagnetic- or sound-based triangulation scheme.” That could mean your computer would wirelessly monitor the stylus from multiple positions to determine its location in 3D space.
The pen can be used to generate text or 3D drawings. For example, you could draw a 3D cylinder in midair, and have the drawing appear on a computer screen while you work, so you’re not limited to a 2D plane. The concept of drawing in midair makes it sound like a digital version of the 3Doodler, a pen that enables users to draw 3D objects that are essentially just pieces of plastic the pen melts, creating your doodles. The patent was originally filed in July 2016 and published in late January.
This figure below illustrates some types of drawings the pen can create:
Apple already sells one stylus, the Pencil, but so far it’s limited to the iPad Pro. There are plenty of styluses around, like Samsung’s beloved S Pen that comes with the Galaxy Note and some like Moleskine’s Pen+ that enable you to digitize what you doodle and write via an app. This is the first time we’ve seen a concept for a stylus that can potentially draw digitally without a surface. It’s important to note, though, that this is just a patent description, and there’s no indication of if or when Apple might actually release a product like this.