Is Apple working on a Pencil that can sample color?

Pencil (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple could be planning a big new upgrade to Apple Pencil.
  • A new patent has revealed how it could include color sampling in the device.
  • It would let users sample colors from the real world with their Pencil, before recreating them on-screen.

A new Apple Pencil patent has revealed how Apple could include color sampling technology in a future version of the device.

Filed earlier this week, the patent is titled 'Computer System With Color Sampling Stylus', and the abstract states:

A device such as a computer stylus may have a color sensor. The color sensor may have a plurality of photodetectors each of which measures light for a different respective color channel. The color sensor may also have one or more light-emitting devices. Control circuitry may use the light-emitting devices to illuminate an external object while using the photodetectors to measure reflected light to determine the color of the external object. The electronic device may have a housing with an elongated shaft. The shaft may have a tip and an opposing end. The tip may be configured to emit electromagnetic signals that are detected by a touch sensor in a touch sensitive display. The color sensor may be located at the end opposite the tip, may be located at the tip, or may be optically coupled to the tip using a light guide.

As you'd expect, the patent roughly features a stylus (Apple Pencil), with a light detector embedded in the device. This detector can be used to sense the color of a real-world object, and then used to control the color of whatever it is your drawing inside of an app. Say you're creating within Photoshop, and the color of a nearby book cover really inspires you. Simply use your Apple Pencil to scan the color, and voila, you can now draw or shade in that color on-screen.

As with all patented technology, this is likely a long way off for Apple, and may not ever see the light of day as a feature of Apple Pencil. But it certainly sounds like a feature that creators and designers would be able to make use of. Would you be interested in an Apple Pencil that can sample color? Let us know!

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