Apple is at least considering a head-mounted display (HMD) for augmented reality (AR) purposes, as evidenced by a newly granted patent (number 9,667,954). It involves a device and techniques for projecting a source image in a HMD having a left and a right display for projecting a left and right images viewable by the left and right eyes.
The source image has right, left, top, and bottom edges and is processed to generate left image data for the left display and right image data for the right display. The left image data includes the left edge, but not the right edge, of the source image and the right image data includes the right edge, but not the left edge, of the source image. The right image data is presented on the right display and the left image data is presented on the left display.
In the patent filing, Apple notes that some HMDs can be used to view a see-through image imposed upon a real world view; in other words, AR. This is accomplished by reflecting the video images through partially reflective mirrors, such that the real world is seen through the mirrors' reflective surfaces. The ARy can be combined with the stereoscopic images in various types of applications.
Some examples include applications in surgery, where radiographic data, such as CAT scans or MRI imaging can be combined with the surgeon's vision. Military, police and firefighters use HMDs to display relevant tactical information, such as maps or thermal imaging data. Engineers and scientists use HMDs to provide stereoscopic views of CAD schematics, simulations or remote sensing applications. Consumer devices are also available for use in gaming and entertainment applications.
This isn’t Apple’s first patent regarding HMDs. The company has been granted several patents for such technology.
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.