Apple granted U.S. patent for super ARM-powered smart-pen/portable computer; predates Livescribe

“The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 18 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today,” Jack Purcher reports for Patently Apple.

“One of the most important patents within this group is for a super smart-pen. In fact, it’s so smart that it’s described as being a portable computer,” Purcher reports. “The smart-pen, which is noted as using an ARM processor, 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.”

“It should be noted that Apple has likely acquired this patent from a Great Britain inventor who originally filed the patent in 1998 or nine years prior to Livescribe coming to market,” Purcher reports. “This is important – as a recent Apple patent application which reflects Livescribe-like capabilities is actually building on the foundation of this newly granted patent and advances the smart pen to include voice, face and object recognition modules and more”

Purcher reports, “This is Apple’s thirteenth smart-pen related patent since 2009. The trend illustrates that Apple is attempting to develop a family of smart pens for future iOS devices that would appeal to both the artist and enterprise user.”

Much more in the full article, including Apple’s patent application illustrations, here.


  1. Just because a company files a patent, it does not mean that they have even got as far as producing a prototype of the invention the patent details.

    I doubt very much that Apple intends to ever produce a product looking anything like this. The purpose of the patent is to either prevent competitors from producing such a device (which it may perceive as competing with other Apple devices like the iPhone) or to ensure a licensing stream if a competing device appears.

    Patenting “inventions” that do not have a prototype, and/or will never be developed into a product, for the purposes of inhibiting competition, is patent trolling, pure and simple.

    1. …and you would know they don’t have prototype(s) and plan(s)…because you’re special? Their R&D is like Area 51. No one knows anything until they want it to be known. So, either you do know this is deception, or you’re blowing smoke out your butt. Save it. You’re probably just giddy to be first poster. Mom’s calling. Wash up before dinner.

      1. Look at the track record.

        Apple files hundreds of patents. Many of them specify devices that have no place in their product line-up, and many get written up by journalists, predicting their imminent appearance. Many of the patents specify devices that are fundamentally impractical. The number that ever actually make it into products in any form whatsoever is vanishingly small.

        The purpose of these patents, such as controls on the back-face of an iPod-like device, a two-screen laptop, or a magic pen, is solely to try to prevent competitors from producing such devices. You’d be naive to think otherwise.

    2. Your line about the prototype is pure bull. I’ve never seen any mention of a prototype requirement associated with a tech patent at any time. It’s a myth created by anti-patent nuts. Secondly, never get caught up on the look of a device in a patent application. An application is to layout an idea or concept and not lay out an actual design. A separate ” design patent” is reserved for actual device designs.

      1. What line about prototypes is pure bull?

        It is fact that patents do not require a prototype. I did not say otherwise.

        But please tell me, what is the purpose of patenting a device that has not even been prototyped and you have no intention of ever developing into a product if not for the purpose of preventing a competitor from working on that idea?

        This kind of activity is widely practiced by many tech companies. Apple, Microsoft, HP, IBM, Oracle – they all do it. These patents are used to force competitors, often small companies as well as large ones, to pay license fees for the patents. Those that decide they’re not going to be bullied with patents end up spending millions on lawyers fees to defend themselves.

        I’m not anti-patent by any means, but this kind of behaviour is clearly predatory and anti-competitive.

        1. The iPhone, iPod, iPad, cameras in the iPhone, and other trends started as patent applications prior to Apple launching products. So you’re theory is just that. Ideas like the iPhone started a decade ago and so you can’t judge a patent-to-product on the time schedule of impatient nerds like yourself. Using timing to market is silly and demonstrates your lack of knowledge on this subject.

          And the language that you use such as “this kind of behaviour is clearly predatory” clearly shows your negative bias towards Apple and the patent system. You anti-patent nuts have never invented a damn thing worth anything and yet you go around verbally shitting on others for your politics. The report isn’t about the merits of patents and you waste everyone’s time with this never ending garbage. Stay on topic or take a hike.

  2. Seems to me, Apple sees the potential market for iOS devices.

    Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian professor in literature and a communication theorist had some really astonishing ideas that pre-date Java machines.

    NOT SAYING McLuhan thought of these but to illustrate perhaps where APPLE INC is going…

    … toasters ordering parts themselves, dishwashers posting technical issues on the family television, the refrigerator with a display to tell us we need more eggs…

    EMBEDDING the iOS onto whatever is possible.
    Hence reinventing all the devices for the future.

  3. I’ve wanted a thin smart pen for a while now to use with my iPad. There’s a few designs out there but not one that I like. Win 8 with Metro will offer pen input and I’ve seen a demo that looks like a great fit. Here’s to hoping that Apple could put the “smart” into pens like they’ve done with smartphones.

    And with this much work done in this area, I don’t see why Apple couldn’l do it. Touch has it’s place but so does a smart pen. The notion that one replaces the other for every need is short sighted. And if Jobs was really against it, he wouldn’t be pouring dollars into advancing the smart pen.

    1. I guess it’ll be a new-ton bombshell for you when a smart pen arrives.

      I love Apple people. They’re against every Apple invention until their leader blesses it. When Stevie asked you to think different, he didn’t tell you to stop thinking. But that’s okay. I expect that from cultists.

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