The Apple iPen now has 22 patents on record and the latest few suggest a modular pen, with add-ons for a projector, camera, laser pointer and recorder.
The iPen appears to be primarily a stylus for use with an iPhone or iPad, but the patent dream has it achieving so much more. Crucially this add-on design will make Apple more money, as iPen modules can be sold separately, making us believe it could actually be a reality at some point.
The projector add-on would allow the iPen to display a document, say, on a wall so the pen can be used to edit mid-air. The projector would also use a camera to detect the surface for pen position accuracy, similar to the technique used by optical mice. We can only image the size of that unit.
Another add-on is a laser pointer with the potential to change colour. This would work with the stylus tip so the pen could still be used on touch screens.
The camera module is an add-on that takes photos which are wirelessly transmitted to a device. The audio recorder would work in much the same way but with buttons to record, stop, play, fast forward and rewind.
A gyro and accelerometer could be used to allow in-air gestures to be recognised. Sweeping hand movements could be used to turn a page or transition slides in a presentation.
The iPen would be charged wirelessly via a base module. But there is an example of establishing a USB connection using the tip of the stylus. That one we're chalking up to wishful thinking from the patent writer.
So it's all very much patent ideas at this stage but with Samsung's Note series doing so well Apple needs to make a move on that market soon.