updated 11:00 am EST, Thu December 17, 2009
Tracking tech would mesh real, virtual worlds
Three recent Apple patent applications have been made public, in each case covering substantially different technologies. The first proposes a head-tracking system, which would adjust the perspective of on-screen images relative to a person's own view, judged via camera. When examining a 3D chart, for instance, shifting one's head left or right would present a slightly different angle.
Such a system could also use cameras to impose reflections on virtual objects, enhancing immersion further. The degrees of reflection would vary based on simulated materials; an object defined as plastic, for instance, would reflect relatively little, whereas chrome would act as a mirror. The shape of an object would distort images appropriately.
A second patent addresses battery life, and in particular, a dynamic method of coping with limited power. Instead of simply shutting off in the middle of a video for example, a device could estimate the amount of power needed at the beginning of playback, and offer viewers either a limited play length or the full content in lower quality. Settings could be tweaked to prefer bitrate, backlighting, volume, resolution and/or other aspects.
Apple may lastly be interested in making media files more responsive to usage. New metadata could be used to tell that someone always skips a certain portion of a song, and have software repeat the same action on its own, automatically. While browsing a music collection the metadata might be used to minimize graphic representations of seldom-played tracks, making it easier to find favorites.