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back to article Steve Jobs' death clears way for vibrating Apple tool

Steve Jobs famously hated the idea of styluses on tablet computers. But, er, it looks like Apple is thinking about making one given the revelations from the US Patent Office yesterday. The Patent Office has published two pending patent applications from Apple relating to styluses that would work with iPad and iPhone: the first …

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Bronze badge

So

One pen to more closely mimic a 'real' pen on real writing material and another to be used without being in contact with the surface you are writing/drawing on..

Call me oi-mister-old-fashioned-can-I-buy-you-a-pint but I can't ever see myself using the latter.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So

Apple will make it and the rest will copy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So

I don't think they will.

This doesn't even SOUND very Apple-esque. Apple aren't known for over-complicating their devices, and this sort of thing is a massive increase in complexity over a regular stylus- or even the Samsung Galaxy Note's rather nifty 'smart' stylus- for very little actual gain.

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Gold badge

Re: So

But think outside of the mobile and tablet market for a second.

Imagine a touch screen the size of a desk and drawing on that, some sort of feedback might help realism? imagine the screen being colour epaper instead of LCD or OLED so it doesn't dazzle.

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Silver badge

Re: So

The thing I've never understood is what's wrong with an ordinary stylus?

Its key advantage over a finger is very simple. It has a point. Not sharp enough to damage the touch-screen, but sharp enough to interact to millimeter precision. For some modes of use, an un-augmented finger is too blunt an instrument.

And its disadvantage? It gets lost.

I 'd solve this problem the same way I solve it with everyday writing implements. Make them cheap and make there be lots of them lying around. In fact with my (not-very-smart) touch-screen phone, it's a biro (with the cap on) that I use to control it most of the time, reserving the pull-out telescopic stylus for times when there's no biro to hand. The phone is supposed to be finger-operable, but I find it so much easier using a biro.

I can see that the haptic stylus might be a plus for certain minority categories of usage and user. For most of us, a biro will suffice. You can also use it to write on paper!

Mr. Biro should be proud. His invention may outlast the everyday using of paper.

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"Jabslab"? No.

"Slab-jabbers" has some possibilities, tho.

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STEVE JOBS IS STILL DEAD.

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Anonymous Coward

Deja vu from recent Reg headlines

Steve Jobs' death clears way for vibrating Apple tool

Steve Jobs' death clears way for rumoured 4in 'iPhone 5' screen

Steve Jobs' death clears way for Broadway star to play Woz

Steve Jobs' death clears way for Ashton Kutcher's role of a lifetime

Steve Jobs' death clears way for Apple-Android peace talks

Steve Jobs' death clears way for '7.85-inch iPad prototype'

Are you guys in some kind of sponsorship deal?

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Stop

Re: Deja vu from recent Reg headlines

No just articles justifying how much Steven Jobs stood in the way of innovation at his own company because it was his way or the highway.

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Silver badge

Re: Deja vu from recent Reg headlines

Or parodying people who say Jobs was in the way.

Or both.

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Re: Deja vu from recent Reg headlines

Yeah, ol' "Roablock To Innovation" Jobs.

Thank God he's gone. Now maybe the company can grow a little.

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jai
Silver badge

Re: Deja vu from recent Reg headlines

never let it be said that El Reg doesn't know how to bear a grudge against someone, even after they've died

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@ Zippy

Stating something isn't the same as justifying.

Although Jobs did publicly slate touchscreen devices that needed a stylus, that doesn’t mean he actually hated them or ‘stood in the way of innovation’ of Apple. There were times that he bashed an approach taken by rivals but Apple was working on it (such as flash storage MP3 players) or to scotch speculation on a new feature that Apple was to bring out in order to to dampen expectation (e.g. video playback on iPods).

The article does say that Jobs may have changed his mind about the use of stylus, but for all we know, he may have no strong feelings about them, other than when it came to selling Apple products. Jobs was a first-class salesman and as such, a lot of caution should be taken when taking a salesman's word at face value.

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Trollface

Re: Deja vu from recent Reg headlines

I think what happened was all those ideas came up and Jobs shot them down saying 'over my dead body'

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Silver badge

Re: Deja vu from recent Reg headlines

Did he ever say he hated styli? Or just that he hated devices that needed a (device-specific) stylus?

If the latter, I'm with him. One should be able to use any not-very-pointed stick. I find a Bic Biro with the cap on almost perfect, and cheap enough to lose one daily without caring.

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Bronze badge
Thumb Up

camera on a stick etc.

The latter patent seems like good, and novel too, idea to me.

Admittedly I'm feeling uneasy about huge and whimsical company holding exclusive rights to it, but that's patent system. Can't blame Apple (at least once) for protecting what seems to be genuine invention.

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Thumb Up

Re: camera on a stick etc.

Don't worry, there's prior art. The best quality smart screens use pens with bluetooth and a little camera to look at dots on the screen; you 'draw' on the screen with the pen, and as it moves, the pen sends the images to the computer, which in turn translates those points into a location.

Granted, these are screens where an image is projected onto them, and not screens in front of an LCD, but the technology is the same. Well, 'same' meaning that it uses the same basic idea, not 'same' in patent terms.

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Gold badge

Re: camera on a stick etc.

I've got a pen in a cupboard that works like that. You have to buy special paper for it, but the whole page is like a 2D barcode in really tiny, faint dots, so the paper just looks an off-white colour. I haven't ever used it, although I did use one in a demo. I assume that there is more to the patent than it says here, or the US patent office has just ignored the prior art.

Personally, I've got 2x Wacom tablets and have also used the Wacom cinteq (?) which is a monitor with a built-in tablet. These systems use inductive styli, and have pressure and angle sensing and buttons on the styli. They are very accurate and read from up to a couple of inches off the surface. They are very easy to use.

Have also got the Galaxy Note which also has a Wacom pen. It's not quite as good, but works very nicely. Also with the Ice Cream Sandwich update, you get a dot on the screen as you move the pen over the surface (not touching) and things like links highlight before you press them. That it very much the way to go if you have control of the pen and the writing surface, IMHO.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: camera on a stick etc.

First-person shooter type video games from the late 80s/early 90s (sega / NES style) had a 'gun' which worked out where you were pointing using a light sensor and the fact that CRT screens really only draw 1 pixel at a time. Sounds like prior art for optical position detection to me... And that stuff worked on any CRT screen!

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Silver badge
WTF?

Re: camera on a stick etc.

These "Smart Pens" with "Smart Paper" have been around for so long that they are the common and accepted way of signing off important documents in some areas of industry.

Two years ago (so before this patent was filed) the shipyard I was at used them for signing off things like "yes, the engine in this ship does actually work" - the kind of thing where rectifying a mistake costs millions so you want to be very sure!

(I never signed with the pen, being a pleb for a subcontractor.)

They'd already been using them for a few years before I saw them - not least for "Yes, that's the right size engine for the ship you'll be building in two years time."

Thus the prior art goes back a very long way.

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Joke

too clunky

Nobody will ever buy this.

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Paris Hilton

"the great man" Please...stop sucking up...He's dead already.

More than likely, Jobs was more interested in the potential income from more Patent suits. He was like a child that hated a toy...until someone else played with it.

Hey, Jobs was the man who stole half of $5,000 from Wozniak. Jobs had zero ethics.

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Facepalm

Re: "the great man" Please...stop sucking up...He's dead already.

The REAL joke is....

Google "Tablet Pen"

The technology already exists. Typical Apple. I guess theirs will be "cutting edge". Not!

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Silver badge
FAIL

Re: "the great man" Please...stop sucking up...He's dead already.

I must have missed the part where the pens I see in your google search offer haptic feedback. I still have no desire to have a pen on a tablet (let alone on a phone, urgh) but if I was an artist who wanted to use it to draw on, or was one of those insane people who thinks having their tablet recognize their handwriting would be faster than typing or more reliable than voice recognition, maybe I'd care.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "the great man" Please...stop sucking up...He's dead already.

Right, haptic feedback is novel... when it's in a pen.

Just like, IIRC, Microsoft's patent on drivers for mobile devices, or any number of [old shit in new form factor] patents.

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Silver badge

Re: "the great man" Please...stop sucking up...He's dead already.

Not saying its novel, just saying that there isn't anything like what the patent proposes available today. Whether the addition of haptic feedback makes a big difference in the usefulness of a stylus would remain to be seen.

If Apple does introduce some sort of pen/stylus just wait for all the Android fanboys to claim Apple is copying Samsung or whoever. Nevermind that Apple had a PDA that used a stylus 20 years ago.

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Silver badge

Re: Google "Tablet Pen"

I'm sure the Apple pen will have rounded corners.

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Paris Hilton

I was hoping this was an article about Apples new range of sex toys - vibrating rounded rectangles - iCum

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Gold badge

You should have read more carefully between the lines then.

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The point is

Taking notes with your finger is hard to read later.

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jai
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clears the way?

No more fondling those slabs fanbois, you'll be jabbing them.

You're saying these are going into production and will be available soon, or included with the next iPad and iPhones?

No?

Because it's not like Apple have past form for patenting an idea and then not producing the product is it?

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Anonymous Coward

<snip>

And the Russians just used a pencil.

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FAIL

New and innovative technology!

NOT Light pens which figure out position based on the current position of a CRT's electron beam have been around since the dawn of computing. Only thing "new" here is using Bluetooth or equivalent instead of a wire from the pen to the computer. That was probably done long ago, too - I just haven't been around users of such devices for several years.

I wonder how many patents Wacom has on everything else in Apple's laughable patent application?

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Unhappy

I was wondering ...

if they still put Jobs name on every patent application they file, even though he''s pushing daisy's?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I was wondering ...

Pushing Daisy's what?

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Anonymous Coward

"The "Haptic" patent application describes a stylus with a "haptic actuator", which will buzz or transmit subtle pressure to the user's hand according to how the pen moves. It will feature a gyroscope and accompanying audio that will imitate the sounds of a pen or brush on paper."

Most ludicrous shit I've ever heard.

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Bronze badge

Maybe, once again, Adult Entertainment to the Point?

Maybe a properly formed Haptic stylus will be the leader of the pack/packed in the Adult Toys industry? Combined with an iPad (like the one I saw a guy using, on which he rapidly hit randomly-appearing squares, which made me think he had an iPad-based drum machine app running), a remote user can literally tap/finger some remote receiving end to gratification or maybe even to death. Or, one can use the toy as a dongle and inconspicuously finger-finger-revolution oneself in public.

I suspect it won't be long before the X-Box becomes a SexBox when some enterprising sex therapists join forces with software (or "Softwear?) developers to "educate" the mentally-challenged of would-be-lovers to learn a few moves in the comfort and privacy of their own homes: a force-feedback or forced-feed-back controller, some comfy nood-shooz, and a grading system built into the eyes of that x-box scanner. But, I am sure that ms (in this/that case) would take royalties from an unnamed, privately-held(?) sub-sidiary, hehehehe, if anything to avoid undue scrutiny, hehehe....

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