Apple has been granted a patent (number 11,030,784) for a “method and system for presenting digital information related to a real object.” It involves the company’s increasing focus on augmented reality on the iPhone, iPad, and other devices. And it especially involves the rumored “Apple Glasses,” a head-mounted display.
The problem with current implementations of AR
In augmented reality (AR), a view of a real environment, such as a video image of the real environment, is combined with an overlay of digital information. This is often in the form of virtual objects. What’s important is their spatial relationship to the real environment.
Apple says that handheld augmented reality requires the user to hold up a camera-equipped device such as iPhone. The device has to be held so that its camera captures an environment or an object with associated digital information. However, if the real environment or object isn’t visible in the camera image, the AR won’t provide the digital information.
What’s more, some AR uses can take several minutes or even hours. One example: pedestrian navigation. Another example: manuals for the maintenance of products. Apple says it may be inconvenient for a user to hold the device for a long time. This means the AR task doesn’t get finished.
The solution: a head-mounted display
A possible solution: a head-mounted display that can be worn comfortably for AR, virtual reality, and mixed reality purposes.
When it comes to Apple Glasses, such a device will arrive this year or 2022, depending on which rumor you believe. The Sellers Research Group (that’s me) thinks Apple will at least preview it before the end of the year.
It will be a head-mounted display. Or may have a design like “normal” glasses. Or it may be eventually be available in both. The Apple Glasses may or may not have to be tethered to an iPhone to work. Other rumors say that Apple Glasses could have a custom-build Apple chip and a dedicated operating system dubbed “rOS” for “reality operating system.”