Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Apple Augmented Reality Projector Patent

Generally speaking reading patents makes my eyes glaze over, but this is a good one. I've noticed that while they mention MicroVision's Projector multiple times, they do not mention another projector as being suitable for the application. (there is mention of eyewear displays from other sources.)

Apple's augmented reality projector includes two key pieces of technology.
First of all, it has a camera that scans an environment like a room or an office. It builds a digital model of that space, and detects which surfaces it can project images onto. The second part of the AR projector would be, well, the projector, which changes what the user sees.

This isn't Apple's first patent for an augmented reality projector. Patently Apple points out that Apple already gained a patent for a similar projector in October.

Full Text of Patent at US Patent office -- Three MicroVision Citations

MICROVISION INC., "PicoP.RTM. Display Engine--How it Works", 1996-2012. cited by applicant.

A suitable unit for use in the system 10 that bundles the 3-D camera 12 and the 2-D camera 14 is the PrimeSensor.TM. Reference Design, available from PrimeSense Corporation, 104 Cambay Ct, Cary N.C., 27513, U.S.A. The content projector 16 may be the PicoP.RTM. display engine, available from MicroVision, Inc., 6222 185th Ave NE Redmond Wash., 98052. In some embodiments, the 3-D camera 12 and the 2-D camera 14 may be integral with the content projector 16 as a modification of the PrimeSensor Reference Design. In one embodiment, the 3-D camera 12 is an integrated module that includes an IR projector, which projects a pattern of spots onto the object and captures an image of the projected pattern. Alternatively, the IR projector, may be embodied as a separate module (not shown). The IR projector may be realized according to the teachings of U.S. Provisional Applications 61/372,729 (filed Aug. 11, 2010) and 61/425,788 (filed Dec. 22, 2010), as well as in PCT International Publication WO 2010/020380, all of which are herein incorporated by reference. These provisional and PCT applications also teach how to reuse the scanning hardware to project both the IR required for depth mapping and the visible content. 

Alternate Embodiment 1 

This embodiment is similar to the first embodiment, except a convenient virtual surface is provided for projection of images and for access by the user. Reference is now made to FIG. 5, which illustrates a screen 136, typically of a mobile information device 138, such as a cellular telephone, e.g., a "smart phone" that is projected onto a virtual surface in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. Such devices are too small for convenient interaction and media consumption. The screen 136 incorporates a miniature projector 140 and sensing device 142, which have the same functions as the 3-D camera 12 and content projector 16 in the embodiment of FIG. 1. Projectors suitable for this purpose are available, for example, from Microvision. In this embodiment, the projector 140 projects an image onto a virtual projection surface 144, which is enlarged relative to the screen 136. 

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