The US Patent & Trademark Office published today a patent filed by Apple in Q2 of 2019. The patent describes a future Head Mounted Device( HMD) that includes some cool features.
This HMD invention can project images like a virtual keyboard on a smooth surface, like a tabletop. Not only this, but the user can interact with these 3D images using his fingers. Let's try to dig deeper into Apple's recent patent.
Apple's HMD contains an inner display mounted in a housing. The housing may be attached to a support structure for head-mounting. Lenses are placed inside the housing which also has eye boxes. Once the user mounts the device with the help of these lenses he can view the images displayed on the inner display.
The HMD can be used as a standalone device. It doesn't have the limitation of just being of use when head-mounted. Various input-output devices can interface on the external surfaces of HMD. These could include buttons, keys of a keyboard or touch sensors which may even overlap displays.
The device can gather input data from the user using the input-output devices. Thus the user can provide input when the HMD is being held in hand or placed on a tabletop. The head-mounted device can also communicate with external electronic equipment like a gaming console, or a telephone. A wireless link might make this possible.
Coming to the projector part of the device, the HMD can project images on any surface close to it. Apple hasn't defined any clear distance from the surface yet. One premium example is projecting an image of a virtual keyboard with which a user may actually be able to interact and provide inputs to the device.
The user can enter the alphanumeric information by pressing the buttons of the virtual keyboard. Some sort of three-dimensional image sensor may make this possible by sensing the finger inputs and processing them successfully.
Say for example a user is trying to browse a particular page where text input is required. He can provide the information from the projected virtual keyboard. The corresponding output from the HMD may be received in three ways: Audio output, visual output, haptic output.
According to Apple, the HMD can also be used to control other electrical appliances. However, It has not been discussed in detail in the patent. As already mentioned earlier the user need not have the HMD mounted on his head to use it. Thus he can multitask while using the device.
The HMD also has an outer display that can replicate the images being displayed in the inner display. For example, if the user is playing a game this may be shown on the outer display. Thus friends of the user can view what the user is playing. Likewise, game scores may also be displayed on the outer display.
The date of the launch of this product in the market is unknown at the moment.