Apple has always maintained that using a pen as a digital input device is old school thinking and not something that Apple want to associate with its touch-centric philosophy and that you will never see an iPad with a digital pen. Well according to a new patent that may not exactly be the truth anymore.
As much as Steve Jobs might have been against the very idea of using a stylus with something like the iPad it seems that the company's engineering team has been looking for ways to re-invent the whole idea.
Given the popularity of Samsung's Galaxy Note and its S-Pen it would appear that Apple has decided that quite possibly this is something that they should reconsider hence a new patent received for something called the "ActiveStylus" which, unlike the passive input style of the S-Pen, would see Apple's implementation and tweaking of a few things around the whole idea.
The patent which Apple just received describes it as:
The Styluses can either act as a drive electrode to create an electric field between the drive electrode and the sense lines of a mutual capacitive touch sensor panel, or as a sense electrode for sensing capacitively coupled signals from one or more stimulated drive rows and columns of the touch sensor panel or both.
The stylus would appear to have its own touch sensor panel which would allow for it to couple signals with the main device making it "active" which is in contrast to the current passive style.
Patent info and drawing courtesy of Patently Apple.