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Apple patents 3D projection technology

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.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. greenG4

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Eh

    I was picturing pucshing a button on my iPhone and seeing a hologram pop up from it like StarWars. I'm terribly disappointed.

  1. johnny99

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    movie industry

    Apple makes a lot of software for the movie industry; maybe this could be used in special effects shops. Seems kind of over the top, and insanely expensive, for a consumer product, at least in the foreseeable future.

  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    bored engineers?

    So basically, the projection system tracks where the viewers eyeballs are and adjusts the image displayed accordingly. This requires what is represented to be re-rendered continually.

    Applying this technology to, say, an animated movie isn't quite there yet- not if you want decent quality. It sounds interesting though, being just short of a hologram. I could see this applied to game interfaces, if one could accelerate/scale movement made by the player to move further distances. Think of it as the ultimate Wii-like interface.

    Don't expect anything of that sort to be on the market any time soon.

  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Possibility

    In the archvis business, if I could project a walkthrough of my design for my clients where they can look and walk where ever they want, this technology would be an invaluable resource. It would also mean no more shortcuts :-.

    I wonder how Sony's cell architecture could help to make something like this happen...

  1. dogzilla

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Interesting...

    Far as I can tell, this is an updated version of the old 3-d movies. Instead of wearing glasses, the system tracks your position to alter the image accordingly. Not that there's no reason why the "3D imager" needs to be static - it could just as easily be in a Wii controller or an iPhone.

    Two things I don't get right off the bat: 1) What happens if there's more than one observer? 2) Unless this is coupled with some other new technology, it doesn't seem possible to get the image quality up to a level that Apple would attach its name to it. Is this a blanket patent covering some other upcoming tech yet to be refined?

  1. Smurfman

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Think AppleTV...

    System does not require a projector. The light sensor/3D imager could be integrated into AppleTV (or a simple wireless add-on that works with AppleTV) and the image will be "distorted" on a HDTV!

    If this will be an AppleTV add-on, it could have some huge possibilities!

    If anyone else thinks this is projector dependent, please post why. I don't think it needs to be. The projector is merely representing the end display device which could be anything.

  1. dogzilla

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    projector-dependent

    beyond the fact that it shows a projector and projector screen on the patent application? I'm not sure this patent would cover a technique that didn't involve a projector.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    unusual

    First, it's just a freakin' patent application, which may or may not ever turn into any product.

    Secondly, what is the 'unusual turn' the first sentence talks about?

  1. johncarync

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    off topic

    At the bottom of this article, I see an ad for a truss. I saw a truss ad on another MacNN article earlier today. Why do I keep seeing ads for trusses on MacNN? Do Mac users have more hernias than the normal population?

  1. Kees

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    no truss

    I didn't see any truss ads, I think it's just you they're targeting...;)

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