Patent for Apple Pencil includes an embedded camera, biometric sensor, mic, and gesture controls

Patent for Apple Pencil includes an embedded camera, biometric sensor, mic, and gesture controls
A patent application filed by Apple with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Organization (via 9to5Mac) might give us an idea about what to expect from the Apple Pencil in the near future. The patent application is called "Touch-Based Input For Stylus" and explains how a low-profile touch sensor can be placed on a stylus with tactile input entered "at the user's natural grip location." A touch sensor found on the stylus can read certain gestures.

In the patent application, Apple says "the touch sensor can be used to detect a tap, double-tap, triple tap, or another tap gesture by the user. For example, as a user applies a finger at the grip region, the stylus can detect the resulting capacitance that is induced in the touch sensor. The user can subsequently lift the finger, and the stylus can detect the resulting capacitance or change in capacitance that is induced in the touch sensor...The sequence of inputs within a span of time can be interpreted by the stylus as a user's tap gesture...one or more taps can be interpreted as a user input to change a characteristic (e.g., color, size, width, thickness, shape, etc.) of a marking produced by use of the stylus with the external device. By further example, one or more taps can be interpreted as a user input to perform functions on the external device, such as a copy function, a paste function, an undo function, and/or a redo function."

Apple envisions a biometric scanner, a camera, and a microphone on the Apple Pencil


The stylus could employ a capacitive sensor to guard against unintentional taps and could also read a "rolling gesture." That would refer to the user moving his finger around the circumference of the stylus or the rolling movement of the stylus' housing. Apple also wanted to make sure that the patent covered every possible item it could include on a stylus, so it threw everything it could think of into the application such as "one or more of a processor, a memory, a power supply, one or more sensors, one or more communication interfaces, one or more data connectors, one or more power connectors, one or more input/output devices, such as a speaker, a rotary input device, a microphone, an on/off button, a mute button, a biometric sensor, a camera, a force and/or touch-sensitive trackpad, and so on."


A future Apple Pencil could include a fingerprint scanner perhaps to verify information for Apple Pay, an App Store purchase or when opening certain banking or financial apps while using the accessory. One does have to wonder whether this patent application indicates that after several false rumors, the Apple Pencil will finally be iPhone bound. Now would be the time for Apple to add Pencil support for its handsets with several expected revisions taking place for the 2020 iPhone models. You might recall that last August, case maker Olixar posted renders of a new iPhone case for the 2019 iPhone units that included a sleeve to house an Apple Pencil. The stylus was not announced by Apple for the latest iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro models.

We've seen Apple apply for various patents over the years for new Apple Pencil features. One that Apple filed in 2018 imagines the use of ultrasound to improve the accuracy of the device. Another one from back in 2015 called for the use of haptic feedback technology to mimic the feeling of writing on paper. And yet another patent filed that same year discussed placing an image sensor on the tip of the Apple Pencil to capture photos and videos.


If Apple does finally cave and produces an Apple Pencil for the iPhone, we'd imagine that it would be compatible with the "Pro" models only and might only be available as a separate accessory purchase.

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34 Comments

1. ChicagoBorn

Posts: 105; Member since: Jan 24, 2018

Mic* not mike

2. cgraham8

Posts: 19; Member since: Oct 03, 2013

Who is Mike and how did they fit him into an Apple Pencil?

3. peschiera

Posts: 66; Member since: Sep 17, 2017

Shouldn't the title be something like Apple copies patents from Samsung? In the complete article not even one word of it which would have been the case if Samsung copied from Apple. It copies the idea of mic, breath analyser, built-in camera and gestures.

4. midan

Posts: 3237; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

Copies patents from Samsung?!?!? what.. It looks like you really didn't understand what the patent was about. This patent is from july 2018 and they didn't patent camera, fps scanner or mic etc. They just basicly patented everything what they could think could use with pencil. There might be camera, fps scanner someday or there might not. "Apple also wanted to make sure that the patent covered every possible item it could include on a stylus, so it threw everything it could think of into the application such as "one or more of a processor, a memory, a power supply, one or more sensors, one or more communication interfaces, one or more data connectors, one or more power connectors, one or more input/output devices,"

6. peschiera

Posts: 66; Member since: Sep 17, 2017

It seems as if you have no idea. For instance Samsung's mic. patent in spen was published in PA in February 2014! The camera patent was filed by Samsung in February 2017. These are all features which iSheeps made joke about when the respective patents were published. "Apple also wanted to make sure that the patent covered every possible item it could include on a stylus" Isn't this what Apple and its fans always complained about Samsung?

8. midan

Posts: 3237; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

You know you get your comment deleted by using words like iSheep etc? And if you keep doing that you get banned. Can't you talk like normal people? How old you are? Apple didn't patent mic or camera, These tech sites just mentioned them as an example what pen could use. So i don't understand what patents Apple copied?

38. Ham149

Posts: 4; Member since: Sep 09, 2019

Same goes to you. Stop defending a company so hard as if you own it

26. jjface

Posts: 270; Member since: Jun 07, 2017

But apple's is a pencil and samsung's a pen. Totally different dude.

28. Rocket

Posts: 736; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

Are you serious? lol

36. jjface

Posts: 270; Member since: Jun 07, 2017

of course not :D

5. mariosraptor

Posts: 192; Member since: Mar 15, 2012

Who's Mike?

10. dnomadic

Posts: 450; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

Once you purchase the pen, will you have an opportunity to rename “Mike”, is “Mike cloned so that he is available in every Apple Pencil?

11. cmdacos

Posts: 4393; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Apple patented the spen patents? Cool... Sounds about right.

14. darkkjedii

Posts: 31772; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

That’s about it lol

20. Vancetastic

Posts: 1896; Member since: May 17, 2017

Shhh...you're upsetting a certain Apple fan.

22. darkkjedii

Posts: 31772; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Uh ohhh lol.

25. Vancetastic

Posts: 1896; Member since: May 17, 2017

We need to be careful...he's on a mission to ban all of the "Android trolls".

29. darkkjedii

Posts: 31772; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Yes, he's big time campaigning for it. I've noticed him calling for bans a lot lately.

30. Vancetastic

Posts: 1896; Member since: May 17, 2017

I'd think it would be easier to just ignore people, but whatever. I'm pretty sure he's reporting comments that hurt his feelings. It's just the internet...who cares?

32. darkkjedii

Posts: 31772; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

He keeps the mods busy lol. I’m so over it.

34. Vancetastic

Posts: 1896; Member since: May 17, 2017

Yeah, me too. I think I'll watch some Note 10 reviews.

12. MsPooks

Posts: 311; Member since: Jul 08, 2019

"Who wants a stylus?! If you see a stylus, they blew it." - Some Dead Guy

17. midan

Posts: 3237; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

And oh boy he was right about that! Few years later no-one navigated their phones with stulys and people used their fingers instead and we still do. Smart guy indeed

21. Vancetastic

Posts: 1896; Member since: May 17, 2017

Imagine a world where you have the option to use a "stulys" or not...but yeah, it's easier to have someone else do your thinking and choosing for you. Orwell was a prophet.

23. darkkjedii

Posts: 31772; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Exactly. One could just say....Note 10+, or the choice device.

24. Vancetastic

Posts: 1896; Member since: May 17, 2017

I think I'll get a Note just to annoy Apple fanboys. Ha ha!

27. darkkjedii

Posts: 31772; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

I was using my S-Pen in the Apple store a couple weeks ago, and got some intense looks, and a few questions about the capabilities. Apple fans want iPhone Pencil support, some just won't admit it.

31. Vancetastic

Posts: 1896; Member since: May 17, 2017

I don't see the harm...it's not like you'd be forced to use it.

33. darkkjedii

Posts: 31772; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Man, I’d love to see the 2020 iPhone work with an Apple Pencil. Apple would actually sell more Pencils that way. I hate having to use my big blunt finger to doodle or write, vs the precise Pencil or S-Pen of my Note. It’s so archaic, not having that ability on my iPhone, especially given the power it packs.

35. Vancetastic

Posts: 1896; Member since: May 17, 2017

Exactly! It's a win-win for Apple, as far as I can see.

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