According to a new patent application, Apple is working on 3D without glasses, AppleInsider revealed today
. The application, describing a projection screen that uses something called an "angularly responsive reflective surface", would allow users to see and manipulate 3D objects in normal light, without headgear.
The application talks about one of the stumbling blocks to broader acceptance of 3D being - essentially - that the specialized goggles make you look dumb, noting that "observers generally do not like to wear equipment over their eyes." The invention for which Apple is seeking a patent enables a "virtual 3D desktop" that will allow you to "manipulate objects within the desktop by reaching into the virtual display." The system that will accomplish this uses proximity sensors to determine where "one or more" users are, and customizes the display so that different images are beamed to each user's right and left eye, thereby creating the illusion of depth. Proximity sensors would also detect what each user is "grasping' or "pushing" and changes the display dynamically to match.
The complex system would need a number of different components to work, including a projector with analog mirrors and a "polygon scanner," a 3D imager, a projection screen with a highly flexible, mobile responsive surface, and a computer powerful enough to do the rendering. In addition, an advanced camera system would make sure that the images lined up just right in each of the user's eyes.
With the blockbuster film Avatar
, 3D imaging is finally beginning to go mainstream, and as Engadget noted today
, it's hard to find "any PC makers not
working on 3D-enabled desktops and laptops at this point." What Apple is talking about with this invention, though, is taking that to the next level with 3D interactivity. We're still years away from this one, but Apple's already staked their claim.