According to a recent Apple patent, embedded projector technology may be closer to a reality than previously thought. Image: Patently Apple
Maybe an iPhone with an embedded projector isn’t so far off after all.
A patent uncovered by Patently Apple reveals Apple’s intention to eventually include a mini projector in the iPhone and iPad and a pico projector-like accessory for MacBooks.
But the most incredibly novel and useful part of the patent description isn’t the projector. It’s the advanced gesturing analysis that would be used in conjunction with the projector to interpret shadow or silhouette movements when presentations (or even workspaces) are displayed in a dark environment.
In Patently Apple’s words, “The level of detail associated with this patent would suggest that Apple’s development teams are moving full steam ahead on the projection system project.”
Just last week we saw the development of a new glass lens tiny enough that it could eventually be used in mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. And although interactive displays, typically in the form of holograms, long have been a staple of science fiction, such technology has in recent years moved increasingly closer to a reality. Intel researchers, for instance, have developed a projected display that behaves like a touchscreen.
The gesture-detecting technology would involve a library of gesture commands that could be used to easily share data. For instance, an image could be shared from one projected display to another. Figures in the patent show a swipe-type motion, not unlike what’s already used in iOS, would instigate the image transfer. Shadow or silhouette gestures would be detected with a camera, then analyzed with image-processing software.
Since the projector lens would be mounted on the side of the iPhone or iPad, an image could be projected on a wall simply by placing the device on a flat surface. Alternatively, a tripod could be used for displaying the projected image on a surface.
Two devices could also be used to display one single, larger, unified image in a “Unified Display Mode.”
Apple first revealed it is working on projector display technology in 2009, and has issued a series of related patents since then. This, by far, is the most detailed yet.