Future iPhones, iPads, and Macs may have a built-in projection system as evidenced by a new patent filing (number 20210026153) by Apple. It could be used for business presentations, watching home movies, film viewing, etc.
In the patent filing, the tech giant says that the popularity of small, mobile multipurpose devices such as iPhones and iPads has resulted in a need for compact imaging components that include lens systems such as projectors and cameras. This is difficult due to the thinness of such devices. Apple’s solution is a compact folding system as described in this (somewhat technical) summary of the patent filing:
“A compact folded projection system is described that includes a laser light source, a folded lens system comprising a lens stack including two or more refractive lenses and a light folding element (e.g., a prism), and a diffractive beam splitter that includes at least one diffractive surface.
“The light folding element provides a ‘folded’ optical axis for the lens system to reduce the Z-height of the projection system, for example to within a range of 1.7 to 4 millimeters (e.g., 2 millimeters in some implementations). The laser light source emits light that is refracted by the lens stack to the folding element. The folding element redirects the light to the beam splitter which replicates the light into NxM duplications or tiles to thus generate a larger field of view (FOV) than the internal FOV of the lens system.”