Microsoft is the company that invested heavily in the modern stylus, and the Surface Pen is living proof that there’s a lot of potential in this little accessory, especially given the increased focus on touchscreens these days.

But Apple, which also has its own stylus called Apple Pencil, is looking into ways to come up with something truly innovative, and one such idea is described in a patent called “Content Creation Using Electronic Input Device on Non-electronic Surfaces.”

As TechRadar reports, the purpose of this new tech is to allow the stylus to be used on whatever surface the user wants, and in case no surface is around, to even be able to write on the air.

VR implementation

While at first it sounds really awkward, the stylus could be used for more complex 3D implementations that might integrate VR capabilities.

The patent explains that the gestures a stylus owner makes on a surface or in the air can be transmitted to connected devices using sensors or cameras that are either connected to a receiving device or even inside a room. This is a sign that the stylus could actually play a key input role in a more complex VR implementation, and such technology could be used by Apple for future products.

“The position and/or motion of the input device can be tracked according to various methods including one or more of a motion and orientation sensor, a camera, or an electromagnetic- or sound-based triangulation scheme. The force data and position/motion data can be processed to generate content, including textual character input and three-dimensional objects. In some examples, the content can be generated based on tracking position and/or motion of the input device without requiring contact with a surface,” the patent reveals.

As with everything that’s in patent stage, this is by no means confirmation that Apple plans to start mass production of the stylus, but it does provide us with a glimpse into the company’s vision for this accessory. Make sure you check out the patent page to see all the technical info provided by Apple.