New Apple Pencil-like patent hints at future Apple Vision Pro virtual pointer capability

Apple Pencil laying beside wooden pencils.
(Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

We've been seeing more and more reports about the possibility that Apple intends to bring support for an Apple Pencil to the Apple Vision Pro and it's been suggested that we may see more about this plan sooner rather than later. It's thought the new feature could be part of the visionOS 2 software that Apple is expected to debut during the June 10 WWDC 2024 event. Now, there's more fuel to the fire that something is afoot.

That's the thought after the publishing of a new Apple patent that appears to hint at an Apple Pencil of sorts that can be used with the Apple Vision Pro. And while the patent doesn't specifically mention an Apple Pencil, it does detail some kind of virtual pointer device.

According to the patent, Apple is aware that using an Apple Pencil-like device could be problematic due to the lack of resistance associated with writing or drawing on a physical surface. But it has a plan to deal with that.

Elastic pencil

The patent, which was first spotted by Patently Apple, details a method to deal with shaking hands and other unwanted movements by using elasticity.

"In some examples, to reduce undesirable artifacts (e.g., flaws due to handshaking and/or hesitations) from occurring in the virtual object, a virtual pointer element is offset from a portion of an input device and is used to generate the virtual object in a three-dimensional environment," the patent explains. "In some examples, to improve the visual characteristics of the generated virtual object, an elasticity model can be applied which includes various modes of physics."

However, it's always important to remember that Apple patents almost everything its engineers come up with so there is no guarantee that this feature will ever see the light of day. But with ongoing rumors of Apple Vision Pro support coming at a time when the Apple Pencil 3 is thought to be weeks away, it's entirely possible that it will do.

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Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.