The United States Patent and Trademark Office published a new patent on May 23, 2019, filed initially by Microsoft towards the end of 2017. Titled "MULTI-FUNCTIONAL STYLUS", the document details new features to increase the functionalities of a stylus - most likely the new Surface Pen. The stylus depicted in the patent diagrams intends to replace a conventional mouse for all operational purposes.
The stylus has a unique "pointing stick" at the top which acts as a joystick of sorts. Users can direct the cursor on a touch-enabled device - a touchscreen laptop for instance - by moving the pointing stick, much like using a traditional mouse on a PC, or a trackpad on a laptop. Additionally, the pointing stick can also sense when force is applied to it, so it can also work as a button and different functions may be assigned to it, such as the click function on a mouse.
Microsoft’s patent also includes a concept to change the method of transmitting data wirelessly depending on whether the writing tip is in contact with the touch-screen or not. Based on the proximity, the stylus will automatically switch between transmitting data through the electrostatic channel or the wireless channel.
Another idea presented in the document by the Redmond-based tech giant is to incorporate an optical sensor in the stylus for accurate detection and tracking of movement. Data collected by the optical sensor is configured and transmitted via an additional wireless transmitter. The patent also details the use of a stylus control circuit to control the transmission of output from sensors.