Even those of us immersed in the world of digital content occasionally need to use a humble pen to jot thoughts and ideas down before they disappear into the mists of your mind. Now thanks to Apple, it’s going to be possible to inscribe your precious mental gems into digital and pen-and-paper media at one and the same time.
The new “Communicating stylus” isn’t the first of its kind: Livescribe, for instance, created the “Smartpen” for transferring handwritten drawings and notes onto ta digital display. But the Communicating stylus looks set to beat it hands down. For one thing, you need specialised paper for the Livescribe 3 Smartpen to work properly. And because it needs a humongous chassis to house the infrared camera and communicating technology inside it, it’s not too far off like trying to write with a banana (and it guzzles a lot of power, too).
The Communicating stylus is positively svelte by comparison. It uses efficient accelerometers and other motion sensors and, to save power, only activates when its nib is pressed to paper (yup, real, common or garden paper), or upon being picked up or slipped from a dock or just plain manually turned on by its owner. Its onboard sensors track its motion in 3D from a starting point of zero, whereupon the device can transmit data in realtime for graphical representation on the screen of any iOS device.
And that’s not all: users can configure the stylus to send its motion data continuously (great if you’re writing on a whiteboard and could do with a bigger screen to display the content to a large audience), at pre-defined intervals or after a specified amount of data has been collected. You can even send the data to multiple devices. And you don’t even need paper or whiteboard – the stylus is fitted with multiple accelerometers enabling it to collect and transmit movement data even if you’re writing in the air.
The stylus also comes in a capacitive version that’s compatible with a traditional iPad stylus, as it can save motion data onboard for later transmission if you want to jot notes to yourself in the train journey home.
The US Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple a patent for the stylus on 27th December. Expect to able to buy one soon.