Will Apple iPen beat Galaxy S4?


Yesterday, Apple’s patent for a super-smart pen, or an advanced iPen, was re-examined and approved for a second time by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) .

According to Patently Apple, the patent was first granted to Apple back in September 2011.

Apple’s super smart-pen is said to be smart enough to be described as a portable computer – now, we won’t expect anything less smart than super-smart from Apple, would we?

And Apple’s iPen has the potential to bundle out the recently launched Samsung Galaxy S4 and the upcoming Samsung SmartWatch with a single brushstroke (pun intended).

It’s supposed to be called the iPen, but there is another device by start-up Cregle with that name, one which allows you to write on iPads and iMacs. For the sake of brevity in this article, we’ll refer to the non-Apple devices as the Cregle iPen 1.

Unlike the Cregle iPen, though, which is but a glorified stylus, Apple’s smart-pen is also likely to incorporate recording capabilities and act as a pager, as the pen incorporates a tiny LCD. The patent notes that the device’s rechargeable battery may also incorporate pyroelectricity and a custom-built solar cell.

The Cregle iPen, byt the way, isn’t a bad invention at all. The Cregle iPen 1 – which is available in market – allows users to write and draw on the iPad. Additionally, funding for the next iteration, the Cregle iPen 2, was completed on February 5, and once launched (in June/July 2013), this device will allow you to write on the iMac in addition to the iPad.

According to Cregle, the iPen 2 will be pressure sensitive, with the ability to handle up to 1,024 different pressure levels – giving additional support for artistic brush strokes and the likes. It will also be angle agnostic, i.e., can be held from any angle with equal accuracy (so no more problems for left-handed folk), and will feel like a ballpoint pen, requiring less pressure to generate the necessary ‘ink’ on the screen.

Check out these YouTube videos of the Cregle iPen 2 in action:

Back to the Apple iPen. When Apple first bagged this patent in 2011, it was Apple’s 13th smart-pen related patent since 2009 – which in effect means that Apple is attempting to develop a family of smart pens for the iPhone 6 and other future iOS devices that would appeal to both the artist and enterprise user.

While the original patented iPen was said to be capable of recording up to 60 seconds of speech, we’re sure with the advancements in data storage capacity in the past few years, we’ll get an hour if not more of recording capability in the Apple iPen when it launches.

The unit incorporates a built-in microphone, speaker and touch-based pause and play control functions. The smart-pen also incorporates all kinds of sensors including GPS and uniquely doubles as a pager, set with either an alarm or vibration alert.

The invention further notes that when the smart-pen is docked with a device or iPhone, the smart-pen will be able to receive data by way of cellular or radio transmission and display such on the pen’s display.

Technically this might be able to extend to instant messaging as well. In fact, based on the patent illustration (see image), it is clear that the pen will also be able to display your email, provide the time and assist users by playing back their own audio to-do list. 

The smart-pen is designed to work with iPhone and iPad-like devices which the patent technically describes as being cellular telephones and hand held PCs.

Now if Apple adds a SIM and a camera functionality to the device, it would become an iWatch, iPod and an iPhone – all in one device. With the recent launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4, critics have been describing Apple’s iPhone 5 as a last-gen smartphone, and Apple certainly needs a quantum jump to once again emerge heads and shoulders above competition.

With the iPen prove to be that springboard for Apple – one that helps it jump over the Samsung Galaxy S4? Watch this space.

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