A stylus is a writing utensil that is used to assist a user in navigating in a touch environment along with providing finer precision on a touch screen, especially when drawing. Take the Surface Pro 3 for example. It features a stylus that lets you utilize OneNote to take notes without typing and the ability to showcase your artistic skills in your favorite app like Fresh Paint or Photoshop.
But what if your stylus can do more? What if you could control your camera with your stylus? What if you could control the playback of audio directly on your stylus and have the ability to record and store audio notes too? What if you could answer your smartphone with your stylus?
According to a new patent filing, which we uncovered today, Microsoft is looking to make a multi-purpose stylus that does more than just provide input to a computing device. Microsoft is looking to add several new capabilities into a stylus, such as support for microphones, speakers, cameras, and more. On top of that, the multi-purpose stylus can also feature an accelerometer, laser pointer, color sensor, and more. Microsoft wants this multi-purpose stylus to act as both a physical input instrument and a remote wireless instrument using a variety of auxiliary devices.
"In particular, embodiments of the stylus and method allow a user to input data to a computing device by physically contacting a touchscreen surface of the computing device while also using the stylus as a platform for auxiliary devices incorporated into the stylus. Currently, styli are designed to interact only with the display. However, the size, shape, and detachability of a stylus make it a useful platform for hosting other functionality and auxiliary devices. This allows embodiments of the stylus and method to interact with multiple devices," the patent filing states.
"A multi-purpose stylus and method for communicating and interacting with a computing device both through physical contact and wirelessly"
The multi-purpose stylus can also feature a laser pointer, a camera (although it would most likely be a low resolution camera), and a color sensor. In fact, you could even use gestures on the multi-purpose stylus to enter a password and get authenticated.
"Embodiments of the multi-purpose stylus may also include a laser pointer and a camera. This facilitates the use of the laser pointer to point out a specific detail and the camera to take a picture or video. This allows real-time demonstration and explanations using embodiments of the stylus. Embodiments of the stylus and method also may include color sensor that provides color coordinates of a color sample. This allows a user to obtain a color match and to compare colors on materials," the patent filing reveals.
Microsoft is also pitching the idea of having a transceiver in the stylus for communicating wirelessly with other devices. A tactile feedback device can also be incorporated into the stylus, allowing vibration to alert the user to pending notifications. Best of all, what if the stylus could store data -- even audio data from the microphone?
You could even charge the stylus by plugging in the stylus into its docking cradle thanks to the charging contacts on the stylus.
These are all hypothetical scenarios that Microsoft is pitching in this patent filing. There is no telling if or when Microsoft will follow though with this idea, but it sure as heck sounds cool. The company has already taken the first step towards a multi-purpose stylus with the Surface Pen. This particular stylus allows you to click the top of the pen to activate OneNote on a Surface Pro 3, allowing one to quickly take notes. Now imagine having other cool functionality with that stylus!
How would you feel about using a multi-purpose stylus in your everyday activities?