A recently discovered Apple patent could hint at the company’s future plans for its Apple Pencil — and they stretch beyond the iPad.
The patent in question, titled “Content Creation Using Electronic Input Device on Non-Electronic Surfaces,” basically describes an Apple Pencil-like stylus that could be used to draw on any flat surface or even three-dimensionally in the air.
The text is pretty vague on how the stylus would achieve this, however. The patent mentions that it could use “a motion or orientation sensor, a camera, or an electromagnetic- or sound-based triangulation scheme.”
This sensor could be placed on an external device, such as a notebook or desktop computer, or on a standalone product.
In other words, the product could be used to “draw” on any flat surface. But the patent doesn’t stop there. It also describes a way to track the data generated by the stylus in three dimensions without contact with a surface. Basically, it could be used to “draw” 3D objects in the air.
Draw on Any Surface
The true utilization of the patent goes beyond drawing or painting on an iPad. Such a device could let graphic designers and artists use any flat surface, like a table, as a sort of “Wacom tablet,” allowing them to draw or write within a graphics program on a notebook or desktop computer.
Of course, with the 3D applications, the stylus could be used to create, edit or manipulate a 3D object in a program like AutoCAD. With the advent of 3D printing, this could go hand-in-hand with home creators using the nascent technology.
The patent also notes that communication between the stylus and an external device isn’t “uni-directional.” That means feedback or other information could be relayed back to the user through an LED screen, a small onboard display, or another vector.
Of course, since it is just a patent, there’s no guarantee that we’ll see the stylus device ever reach the market. Similarly, even if the patent’s tech does reach an Apple product, we have no idea when such a product could launch.