Apple Pencil patent could enable haptic feedback and grip detection

Apple Pencil
Apple Pencil (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • A recently published Apple patent seems to build on previous suggestions the Apple Pencil may one day include haptic feedback.
  • A newly published patent has revealed how the Pencil could be used to provide haptic feedback to a user.
  • The Pencil would also be able to sense a user's pressure and grip, minimizing the disruption caused by the vibration.

An Apple patent has revealed how Apple's Pencil could one day provide haptic feedback to users, whilst measuring your grip and pressure to ensure the vibration doesn't disrupt your work.

The patent is titled 'Touch-based input device with haptic feedback' and was published on February 18. The abstract states:

An input device, such as a stylus, can include a piezoelectric device for providing haptic feedback and/or detecting user input. The piezoelectric device can be coupled to an inner surface of a housing of the stylus. The piezoelectric device can provide haptic feedback with a force to the housing when an electric voltage is applied to the piezoelectric device. The haptic feedback can provide information to the user relating operation of the stylus with an external device. The piezoelectric device can also produce an electric voltage when an input force is applied to an outer surface of the housing and transmitted to the piezoelectric device. The electric voltage can be used to detect tactile input from a user.

According to the description:

A variety of handheld input devices exist for detecting input from a user during use. For example, a stylus can be utilized to provide input by contacting a touch panel of an electronic device. The touch panel may include a touch sensitive surface that, in response to detecting a touch event, generates a signal that can be processed and utilized by other components of the electronic device. A display component of the electronic device may display textual and/or graphical display elements representing selectable virtual buttons or icons, and the touch sensitive surface may allow a user to navigate the content displayed on the display screen. Typically, a user can move one or more input devices, such as a stylus, across the touch panel in a pattern that the device translates into an input command.

The patent would essentially allow the Apple Pencil to detect how you are holding it, adjusting the feedback provided accordingly. Apple has previously published several patents suggesting that it plans to incorporate haptic feedback into the device. Back in October, a patent revealed how Apple was exploring using magnetic field generator to provide haptic feedback.

More recently, in December, a patent revealed how haptic feedback could be used to simulate writing and drawing on different surfaces by mimicking the feel of drawing on paper.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9