A diagram from one of two stylus patents recently filed by Apple.
Apple A diagram from one of two stylus patents recently filed by Apple.

Apple wants to make the colors and textures of the tangible world—natural and constructed—more accessible to digital design. The company recently filed two patents for styluses that raise the game on high-tech design tools. One offers touch feedback, vibrating to mimic the texture of a real-life object or surface while the designer sketches. The other is fitted with a camera and image storage to bring objects and textures more readily into digital design files. For example, a designer wanting to add a masonry finish to a façade need only tap a nearby stone and input that texture or visual into the design. Apple has yet to debut a stylus of its own, but its move follows a recent trend among makers of digital design tools—including FiftyThree, which makes chic stylus Pencil, and Morpholio, whose suite of apps  are meant for collecting and sharing material inspiration— favoring on-the-go mediums. [Fast Company’s Co.Design + PSFK]

ICYMI: Three memorable material interventions on display at the Milan Expo 2015. [ARCHITECT]

How much should you tip your robotic bartender? If new research from MIT makes it to market, that could become a serious question. The university’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory built a trio of robots that can work together to take orders and deliver beer—a collaborative task (below) that shows potential for the technology in applications beyond restaurants to hospitals and disaster-response crews. [Gizmag]

If a warm, moist cloud is your idea of a good shower, consider this fixture head from startup Nebia. [Wired]

Additive manufacturing technology is helping architects rethink structural assemblies. German firm ZA Architects' 3D-printed masonry blocks are arranged in a computationally designed lattice construction that eliminates the need for load-bearing walls, columns, and beams. [Designboom]

Last month Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign—which has already surpassed its funding goal—to build a smog-collecting tower in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. It is intended to be a pilot for similar structures worldwide, with the collected waste compressed and distributed in jewelry products. [Kickstarter]

Good news for mathematicians and lovers of geometric tile (we're assuming some overlap between the two groups). While a standard, symmetrical pentagon cannot tile a plane—that is, be arranged to cover a flat surface without leaving gaps—mathematicians at the University of Washington Bothell recently found a new kind of pentagon that can, in fact, be tessellated. That ups the number of asymmetric pentagon tiling options to 15 patterns. [The Guardian]