Another Patent Hints at iPhone Compatibility with Apple Pencil

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Thursday published an Apple patent, specifically covering the technical details surrounding “position-based communication between the Apple Pencil and iPhone.”

While it’s strictly technical in nature, today’s patent, which was originally filed back in Q2 of 2016, is the latest indication that we could be much closer to an iPhone-compatible Apple Pencil than we think.

As described by Patently Apple, Figure 7 (illustrated in the image below) shows a portion of a standard, multi-touch panel configuration, which according to Apple is capable of operating via an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) to facilitate a stylus scan. Figure 8, meanwhile, shows the iPhone and its touchscreen ready to accept input from a connected stylus device (Apple Pencil).

Worth pointing out with regards to Figure 8: illustrated is what appears to be an example of Apple Pencil communicating with iPhone via a wired connection, like Lightning — however the company notes in other embodiments that the Apple Pencil can also communicate with iPhone over a wireless communication channel such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

The rest of the patent is strictly technical in both nature and terminology, and goes on to describe “touch sensitive devices” which can include “circuitry for analyzing encoded stylus data.” These examples, shown in Figures 11-A and 11-B, illustrate “exemplary stylus signal analysis hardware for decoding stylus data.” Such hardware can be used to analyze data collected from “one or more touch sensors proximate to a stylus during a fine stylus sub-scan.”

Figures 13-A and 13-B, meanwhile, illustrate examples of various “stylus data processing hardware.” In 13-A, we see an example of processing hardware which includes a “plurality of correlation engines,” which can “receive input selected by position estimation engine via multiplexers,” according to the patent documents.

As with all Apple patents, this one too should be taken with a grain of salt until further notice, especially as the company is known for patenting more in the way of concepts than it produces.

Still, considering how the inherent patent delves further into the iPhone-compatible Apple Pencil patents published previously, it’s only reasonable to assume we could actually see this in the not too distant future. Perhaps even when Apple adopts a much larger display for iPhone next year.

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