Apple’s Patent Filing Reveals Advanced “Active Stylus” For iOS Devices

Apple’s patent application with the US Patent office has revealed an advanced “Active Stylus”, which according to the company, improves the overall functionality and accuracy of a stylus. Apple claims it will overcome common stylus problems and iOS devices will be able to take advantage of the “Active Stylus” technology in future, PatentlyApple reports.

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Apple explains that conventional styluses are passive input devices and that they are incapable of sensing a touch-induced capacitance change in a touch sensor panel. However, the Active Stylus is outfitted with an electrode at the tip and can interact with a capacitive touch sensor panel, allowing users to tap around on menus, buttons and text fields. 

Unlike conventional styluses which work passively by blocking electric field lines between the drive and sense electrodes of a capacitive touch sensor panel, the styluses disclosed in the various embodiments of this disclosure can either act as a drive electrode to create an electric field between the drive electrode and the sense lines of a mutual capacitive touch sensor panel, or as a sense electrode for sensing capacitively coupled signals from one or more stimulated drive rows and columns of the touch sensor panel or both.

Accordingly, the styluses disclosed herein can be referred to as active styluses in comparison to conventional passive styluses. These active styluses can significantly improve stylus sensing on a mutual capacitive touch sensor panel without incurring significant additional cost.

Apple’s Engineering Manager Jonah Harley and Hardware Engineering Manager David Simon are the noted inventors of this patent which was filed in Q2 2011.