In the ongoing mystery of Apple showing signs of getting into the virtual reality arena, the company have just been granted yet another patent for its collection.
The patent in question is a transparent high field of view display that can be used for augmented reality suggesting Apple may be considering entering the industry.
We’ve already heard that Apple may be entering the AR or VR game but it’s uncertain what form that may be in. This patent suggests that rather than retrofit VR to an existing iOS device, the company may be creating a dedicated headset. Apple tend to sit back and analyse a new technology before entering the picture, and it appears the company are doing something similar here. By letting others release the day-one hardware, Apple can learn what works and what doesn’t and optimise its headset based on the experience and feedback of consumers.
This particular patent, which was filed back in 2012, is described as a “Peripheral Treatment of Head-mounted Displays” and details a form of AR display that utilises technology similar to optical waveguide, a way to bounce light from a source to a destination with minimal loss of signal. Apple’s diagram shows a label “Large Eye Motion Box”, which could indicate the display will feature a relatively high field of view, similar to that of the Microsoft HoloLens.
Patently Apple offer a detail description of the patent:
A computer program product, stored on a non-transitory machine-readable medium, for projecting a source image in a head-mounted display apparatus, the head-mounted display apparatus having a display operable to project a display image viewable by a user and a peripheral light element positioned to emit light of one or more colors in close proximity to the periphery of the display, the computer program product comprising instructions operable to cause a processor to: receive data representing a source image; generate, based on the data representing the source image, a display image; generate, based at least in part on the data representing the source image, a set of peripheral conditioning signals to control the peripheral light element; display the display image on the display; and use the set of peripheral conditioning signals to control colors emitted from peripheral light element.
The patent is good indication that Apple are taking AR seriously and are in the process of developing some kind of augmented reality headset. Of course, patents only tell half the story, and Apple are notorius for mothballing projects mid-cycle. So while all the signs are there indicating Apple is interested in AR, it might be a while before we see an actual AR Apple device, but it’s good to see the company are showing interest.