Smart iPad stylus could help Apple crack the enterprise world

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Did you know this is the first product Jony Ive ever designed for Apple? Photo: Portfolio Penguin
Did you know this is the first product Jony Ive ever designed for Apple? Photo: Portfolio Penguin

Apple hasn’t built a device requiring a stylus since the heyday of the Newton in the 1990s, largely because Steve Jobs hated them. But a new patent published today suggests that Apple could be changing its mind — or is making a conscious effort to lead rivals and copycats astray.

Described as a “communicating stylus,” the patent describes a stylus featuring built-in accelerometers, wireless transmission, and storage — with the aim of sending hand-written notes and drawings from one device to another.

Of course, just because Apple publishes a patent doesn’t meant that this is a concept that will one day arrive on shelves as a physical product. With that being said, however, there are a few clues in this patent, which suggest why now may be the perfect time to strike for a smart Apple stylus.

It's not a design patent, but this drawing from Apple shows how the stylus could work.
It’s not a design patent, but this drawing from Apple shows how the stylus could work.

With falling iPad sales, Apple has recently been pushing to get iPads embraced by both the business and education worlds. Earlier this year, Apple announced a partnership with IBM, designed to “transform enterprise mobility through a new class of business apps.” There was also a $1.3 billion attempt to provide iPads to every student, teacher and campus administrator in the Los Angeles school district — although the scheme wound up collapsing amidst controversy.

Today’s patent paperwork notes that:

“The stylus can enter … data from a distance, such as from across the room, to the computing device. This allows a user in one embodiment to keep the computing device stored, for example with a cellular phone, in his pocket and still be able to use the stylus to enter text or drawings into the device. This makes it easy, for example, in a classroom setting for a user to take handwritten notes and simultaneously create a digital version of those notes. Additionally, in another embodiment, the stylus allows for the user to write on a whiteboard mounted on a wall and simultaneously display what he has written on a computing device.”

Particularly with rumors of a 12.2-inch iPad Pro to be announced this year, iPad functionality will expand beyond where it is now: opening up new possibilities for the iPad as a serious productivity tool.

This isn’t the first time a stylus would be available for the iPad, of course. There are plenty of third-party styli available, ranging from the good to the just-plain-wacky, while previous Apple patents show the company has at least considered this an area worth investigating before.

Although I’m in no rush to replace my existing iPad, I’ve always found the stylus-equipped Microsoft Surface to be a useful complementary device to the iPad, and recent sales figures seem to back that up. If Apple is serious about embracing the enterprise market, a stylus-equipped iPad could be the way to go.

Source: USPTO

Via: Apple Insider