Apple's R&D is always hard at work coming up with various ideas for Apple products, and when they do, Apple usually lays down the paperwork for patents on them, whether they're destined for actual release or not. A few of these wacky ideas have popped up in the USPTO lately, and while they'll likely never see the light of day as real products, they do show just how busy they are coming up with new ideas in Cupertino.
First up, one of the patents describes a built-in stand for the iPad. We've certainly seen plenty of third-party stands for Apple's tablet, but Apple has apparently designed an official solution that bends out from the back and holds in two positions -- one for standing up straight and another for standing down lower, as you'd have it if you were typing out something on the keyboard. The stand would feature a dual hinge, and it could even be rotated around.
Elsewhere in the patent office, Apple is also working on something surprising: a stylus for use on its touchscreen surfaces. Steve Jobs famously said that "if you see a stylus, they blew it," but apparently some of Apple's engineers disagree and are working on a prototype. The stylus would provide more exact interaction with the touchscreen (Apple's patent describes how to get the smaller stylus working with a touchscreen built for fingers), and it would likely make tasks like drawing and writing easier on the iPad and iPhone. Both patents are interesting, but don't hold your breath on seeing these on stage at the next event.