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Microsoft has patented a haptic feedback method for the Surface Pen

11 best Windows apps for Surface Pen users
11 best Windows apps for Surface Pen users (Image credit: Windows Central)

Last week a patent emerged which appears to describe a touch-sensitive clip for the Surface Pen, allowing users to interact with Windows in new ways via the pen alone. Today, we found another patent which relates to the Surface Pen, which appears to be a method for creating haptic, physical feedback to the pen user via small magnets within the stylus' tip.

Described by the patent as a "Haptic Stylus," it details methods for producing haptic feedback for a variety of functions as detected by the Surface Pen, including pressure sensitivity, tilt, and button presses.

Haptics into the Surface Pen might seem unnecessary at first, but the applications have a lot of potential. For example, gentle vibrations could help create a sensation that you're writing on something rougher, like paper, producing a more natural writing experience than you'll get inking on a glass display. Additionally, Microsoft could create ways for haptic feedback for events, for example, when your stylus rolls over a link while using it to browse in Edge. This might be useful for an inking-heavy device, like say, the rumored folding Surface "Andromeda".

Microsoft to be exploring it as a possible option for the Surface Pen is encouraging, but like many patents, it might never become a real product. Apple itself was exploring haptic stylus features all the way back in 2012, and sadly for Apple fans, they never made it into the Apple Pencil. We'll just have to wait and see on this one.

Jez Corden
Jez Corden

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

17 Comments
  • Nice.
  • Man, isn't this exciting!
  • OH my god this THIS IS HOW YOU SOLVE Pen and paper feeel!! I alwyas thought that the screen needs to be ''rough'' to feel the paper or the pen tip, but its really just haptic feedback that can solve this.  And this patent needs to be protected at all cost.  Dont let APPLE copy this, dont let android steal this.  patent and protect this genius idea.
  • Next they will patent a use of the pen as a tooth pick
  • In what I believe to be a related topic, they apparently added some feedback to the WMR controllers when you move over selection options. I haven't found a way to turn this OFF.  It is incredibly annoying to have the stupid controllers vibrate every time I move the pointer over something.  I do not want any feedback.  Heck, I hate using the controllers at all as it is.
  • Well don't use it....go buy an apple computer and be done with the constant ******** about your windows devices here!
  • Now that you've said it... I seem to recall many "I hate" from his posts.
    Focused mode in outlook? I hate it cause I don't leave my email to next day. Useless feature.
    How do you process a music festival ticket that's gonna happen months later or movie ticket for the coming weekend?
    How do you find'em when you need it?
    1. Hit search, type your key word to find your email?
    2. Hit Focused and the email should be right there for you.
    Method 2 is more efficient.
  • You can disable Focused inbox in settings.
  • True, but he hates it also just because it is implemented, more code == bigger file size. more feature == more computation costs, etc.
  • Even if this isn't "the answer" it's great to see that Microsoft engineers are hard at work on this issue. The difference between writing on a tablet and writing on paper is probably the biggest reason I haven't gone fully paperless. I just don't like the feel of writing on a LCD screen. When I'm writing on paper my muscle memory keeps my words lined up with the paper. On an LCD screen I really have to pay attention to make sure my writing stays within the "paper" on OneNote or any other notetaking app. 
  • I know what you mean. I have actually developed good muscle memory for writing on screen now and it feels a lot more low-effort due to the less friction. With keeping in line, ruling options helped me a lot initially. Very easy on OneNote. Now I'll use them sometimes and not the others.
  • ZZzzz Come on Jez why dont you write about something you know about...like US gun Control...oh wait of that you know nothing...you save the trash narration for social media where you can stick your head in the sand and block what you dont want to hear or see. At some point you'll have to grow up and realize there is nothing wrong with facts and a healthy debate of sorts.....i mean i doubt you will but one can hope. Otherwise just stfu and write your puff pieces on Xbox and MS you DR'ing lil hack. P.S you can delete, block this i wont ever be back to this site...good riddance to you Jez and this laughable website...
  • Someone needs to get the pharmacy for more meds
  • I only block idiots on Twitter so I guess you fell into that category. I LOVE the salt though, so keep it coming babes.
  • Huh??
  • I don't think microsoft should pursue this patent. The stylus clip is the most fragile part of a pen or stylus, and break easily in my experience. It also lacks functionality. I think it would be a better to go for a patent where the erasor side of the pen would incorporate a surface dial dial feature to the stylus. This would allow more functionality and degrees of freedom, mainting the click of the current surface pen. The dial could allow the scrolling or menu dial functionality to access more functions, at the twist of the dial. I've missed two extra end user programmable buttons, to date I would like the surface pen to support. I think the dial could easily support that, and more. The current dial can do more, at the control of the end user through settings. Heavenly!
  • Now, thats great one, feeling textures through screen. Not perfect as I would add also resistance, but useful enough. awesome.