The Man Said Ta-Da: MacBook With Built-in Projector
Another Apple patent has been revealed, and this time it's for a pico projector built in to the hinge of a MacBook that self-corrects for movement and distortion. Patently Apple
has done their usual excellent job of translating it from "patent-ease" into readable English
, and the invention actually looks pretty interesting. While Apple often takes out patents for the same reason people squat domain names (namely, so that they can use it first, or charge anyone who does use it a lot of money, or both), the company is known to be working on pico projectors
, at least as a R&D. And while pico projector technology is in its ugly, clumsy infancy, Apple is as good a candidate as any to be the first one to actually do it right.
The patent ("Portable Computing System With a Secondary Image Output
") describes a projector that is "integrated" with some kind of a "portable computing system" - which may be a laptop or some other kind of a device - that also has one or two cameras built into it. Rather than facing the user, as a webcam would, the extra camera(s) would face in the direction of the image that the projector displays on a wall. The purpose of the camera would be to adjust the image for distortion, whether caused by the angle of the projector or by the ambient light in the room. Another part of the invention talks about using accelerometers - which are not generally present on laptops but are on iPhones and iPads - to correct for movement, so you could just hold the thing up and it would project a relatively stable image.
Pico projectors are plagued with lots of problems, from poor color quality in the affordable LED-powered ones to high cost and image speckle in the higher-end laser scanning projectors. Obviously, we might not see an actual product like this for years, if ever. But given that Apple's really interested in moving more and more into portable media devices
rather than just computers, you can expect that someday, some way, they'll have something like this with an Apple logo on it.