Apple’s adaptive projector patent mentions smart glasses and 3D input interfaces

Apple has been granted a patent (number 9,201,501) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for an “adaptive projector” that could be incorporated in, or used by, Mac OS X and iOS devices, as well as Apple-developed smartglasses. It could enable adaptive reality (AR) augmentation and 3D input interfaces.

Apple’s invention could be used for virtual reality apps, gaming, and interacting with OS X, iOS, and tvOS devices. According to the patent, the apparatus for processing data includes a projector that’s configured to project content onto at least a part of a scene. A processor is configured to detect a location of an eye of a person in the scene and to control the projector so as to reduce an intensity of the projected content in an area of the eye.

FIG. 1 is a schematic pictorial illustration of an interactive three-dimensional video display system.

In the patent filing, Apple says that natural user interfaces are gaining momentum in the entertainment and computer industry. For example, gesture controls are supplementing or replacing “more conventional and less natural” interfaces such as keyboard and mouse, game controller, and remote control. The user interactions, however, continue to relate largely to the computer monitor, limiting applicability and ease of use of such interfaces, according to Apple. Some of the gesture controls rely on optical 3D mapping. 

Apple wants to provide an improved content projection device that’s “aware” of objects in its field of view, recognizing such objects that are suitable for content project. The projection device could do this by adapting to the geometry and character of the objects by controlling scale, distortion, focus of the projected content, and varying the projected content itself. 

    FIG. 6 illustrates an interactive three-dimensional video display system that includes a wearable monitor.


FIG. 6 illustrates an interactive three-dimensional video display system that includes a wearable monitor.

The projection device may also adapt the projected content according to the relationship of the viewer to the projected content. The 2D/3D input device used to analyze the geometry for projection could also be used to interact with the projected content, according to Apple. 

Of course, Apple files for, and is granted, lots of patents. Many of them never reach fruition.