Apple iPen patent reveals a nifty modular smart stylus

Apple is set to bring its magic to the humble stylus, according to a patent that has emerged detailing the modular device.

This all kicked off last week, when Cupertino-watchers Patently Apple uncovered a raft of patents pertaining to the iPen (what else would it be called).

As the website reported at the weekend, the main patent gives a detailed overview of the modular iPen, which allows the user to switch between different modules, depending on what they want to use the device for. So, for example, there’ll be a module that carries a laser pointer which a business user could employ when giving presentations.

The iPen would consist of a base module with the stylus tip, stylus stimulation signal circuit and processor, and the expansion modules would attach to this.

Patently Apple notes that the various expansion modules could potentially include the aforementioned laser pointer, a mini-projector, audio recorder, gyroscope and accelerometer.

In the case of the projector, apparently Apple’s thinking is that it will display an image on a surface, and the user could, say, edit a displayed document by using the stylus on the image.

It all sounds like a pretty nifty concept, and Apple would be able to roll out more modules in time (if this one turns out to be a cash cow, it will definitely be a very milk-able one).

You can see some example modules in the image below. Figure 6 shows an expansion module with camera functionality, figure 7 an audio recorder, and figure 9 a laser pointer with gyro/accelerometer (the latter of which could be used when drawing with the stylus, to make a line thinner when the iPen is tilted).

Of course, Apple patents a hell of a lot of technology, and the existence of these patents certainly doesn’t mean that the next device out of Cupertino will be the iPen.

We’re still thinking the next one will be the iWatch, although it’s our bet that Apple will want to take its time designing something to really wow in terms of fashion as well as function. Whether Cupertino will have the luxury of that time is another matter – the public and in particular Apple stockholders want to see the company make a big splash again with an exciting new product.

Simply trotting out another iPhone and iPad variant this year is likely to lead to Apple stock sinking lower still.

Image Credit: Patently Apple

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