A new patent issued on behalf of Microsoft shows that the company has been thinking about a new type of stylus, one that could identify the color and textures of the real world and use them on a digital screen.
According to its patent, which was issued last night, Microsoft has developed a type of stylus which also features an array of sensors and a color detecting system. A user could, for example, place the stylus’ color-detecting tip next to a real world object, and the device would register that color, and then reproduce it on screen. We’ve seen similar devices show up on Kickstarter for a while now, but Microsoft’s design goes even further.
But there’s another trick that Microsoft imagines its stylus performing: recognizing the texture of objects. This is a much more complicated feat than simply identifying a color, and would utilize an array of sensors, from accelerometers and gyroscopes to microphones that could identify the sound the tip makes when brushing against an object. All of these could then be used to determine the texture of a material, which could then be recreated digitally on screen. Now these types of capabilities, if good enough, could be used in design studios, 3D modeling, and so on.
Unfortunately, this technology isn’t exactly brand new. While Microsoft just got the patent for everything described above, the company originally filed its application back in 2014. In other words, Microsoft has had plenty of time and some important opportunities to bring such a product to market if it so desired. But it hasn’t yet, leading us to believe this is more of a research project than an actual product, at least for now.
But who knows what the future holds? The company may still decide that this is a worthwhile release in the future, especially for Surface tablets geared towards artists. Now that would be a real differentiator in the stylus wars.