Apple looking into ‘Apple Glasses’ that interact with keyboards

Apple has filed for another patent (number 20190174088) regarding a head-mounted display (HDM) for augmented reality/virtual reality applications. It’s for a display system that involves an HDM that works with devices such as keyboards.

Apple is widely believed to be working on AR glasses, widely believed to be dubbed “Apple Glasses.” Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster — says Apple’s augmented reality (AR) headset  will arrive in 2021 and sell more than 10 million units in its first year.

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“We expect Apple's AR theme to play out in three phases," Munster said, with the first occurring in the fall iPhone refresh in the form of more iPhones using VCSEL arrays that can help power AR experiences. This will be followed by ARKit apps becoming "the next gold rush for developers" in the fields of gaming, commerce, and education, then the release of ‘Apple Glasses’." 

In the latest patent filing, Apple notes that computers with displays can present simulated environments to users. Head-mounted displays are available that enhance the immersive nature of simulated environments. A user with a head-mounted display may be presented with virtual reality worlds. A user may manipulate virtual objects in the virtual worlds by supplying input through data gloves or other input devices. 

AR systems may, for example, use head-mounted displays to display virtual objects intermingled with real-world objects. Apple says that, although a wide variety of virtual input devices can be constructed for a user in a simulated environment, tasks such as supplying text input can be cumbersome in simulated environments. For example, a user in a simulated environment may not be provided with physical feedback of the type that naturally arises when interacting with a physical keyboard. Apple wants to change this.

Here’s the summary of the patent filing: “A system may be provided in which input is gathered from a user with input-output devices. The input-output devices may include physical keyboards, touch screen displays, data gloves, and other input-output devices. Control circuitry in the system may use a head-mounted display, a display on a keyboard, and a display in a tablet computer or other electronic device to display images. 

“Virtual reality content may be presented to a user with the head-mounted display. The virtual reality content may include virtual documents with virtual text, virtual keyboards with virtual keys, and other virtual objects. A virtual keyboard may be overlaid on top of a physical keyboard or on top of a keyboard display or touch screen display in a tablet computer or other electronic device. Virtual key labels may be updated in response to user key press input and other input.”

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.