updated 11:20 am EDT, Thu March 20, 2008
Apple patents 3D projector
In an unusual turn, Apple has patented a technology for simulated 3D projection, filings from the US Patent and Trademark Office show. Originally submitted in September of 2006, the patent revolves around a screen with an "angularly-responsive" reflective surface, working in tandem with a projector and a secondary device, described as a "3D imager." This component is key, as it is used to gauge the position of observers relative to the screen. As a person shifts their perspective, the system reacts, presenting separate images for left and right eyes.
Such a technique ultimately fools the brain in order to "mimic a hologram," according to the patent. Crucially, viewers need no special glasses or helmets. Images can parallax along multiple axes, and there is no need to remain in a single spot for the full effect.
What Apple would do with the technology is unclear; while Apple does produce branded displays, it has never sold a projector. Likewise, the proposed system would likely be elaborate and expensive, requiring three different elements that must be positioned neatly around a room.