Apple patent hints at Apple Pencil support for Macs

Apple has filed for a patent (number 20170097746) for a “collaboration system” that hints at use of an Apple Pencil on Macs via virtual whiteboards. The patent would allow remote participants during a conferenceto look at an electronic whiteboards which may be run as an application on a “personal computer.”

Of course, it’s possible that Apple is referring to the iPad as a personal computer. After all, the company has positioned it as a laptop replacement. 

Another interesting aspect of the patent is that written content will be stored inan electronic pen (the Apple Pencil) and, on demand, streamed from the pen to a collaboration server. Where the pen is configured to stream the information over the network to the collaboration server directly, it may do so. 

Alternatively, the electronic pen may stream the information to a computer 58 or other handheld electronic device associated with the pen user, which may process the data and/or relay the data to the collaboration server. The collaboration server interprets the pen strokes from the electronic pen and provides an updated output to the other participants participating in the collaboration session by causing the updated content to appear on a large digital surface physically present with the other participants in the collaboration center. 

For example, if the electronic pen user draws an image, the image may be shown to the other participants on the large digital surface in the collaboration center. On the other hand, if the pen user invoked a function such as voted on an item, the pen user's input will be provided to the other participants to show an updated collaboration view. 

In one embodiment of the invention, users can add content to a digital system by using a pen that streams coordinates so that input to the digital system may be based on conventional pen and paper handwriting. In another embodiment, a pie-based menu system is used for input to large display area digital devices in which an occluded portion of the pie-based menu system is not used for direct input by the user. 

The selection of which areas of the pie-based menu system should be omitted from use is adaptive and responsive to whether the user is left-handed or right-handed, and the wrist angle defined by the user's posture. In still another embodiment, an ergonomic open-shaped pie menu system is provided to facilitate selection of options on a digital surface.

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.