Apple Granted Patent For Insanely Complicated 3D Display Method

Apple was granted a set of patents earlier this week, but while those were practical, even prosaic in their content, this new one is simply baffling. I’m thinking that the many talented engineers at that company are coming up with more ideas than Apple can actually execute, but are too cool to ignore.

Today’s “grab bag” patent is for an autostereoscopic 3D display that tracks the user’s position in space and adjusts the display accordingly. It’s a monstrously complex way of doing things, but if you don’t want to wear glasses, this is what you get.

The invention involves a Kinect-esque motion and position sensor that would determine the position of the user — specifically, the position of his eyes. The display surface would be a “programmable mirror” governed by a “angularly-responsive reflective surface function.” As you can tell, it’s rather a technical patent, and although I have my doubts about the precision of the motion and eye detection, the principle seems sound if such a display surface exists.

My question is really more of a “why Apple?” I mean, I can hardly think of an application for this technology, interesting though it is, in any imaginable consumer tech of the next few years. Sure, the Kinect demonstrates some similar advanced functions, and 3D content is only going to increase and improve, but this system is extremely complex and would be quite expensive.

There are few situations in which this device seems practical — allowing for freedom of movement is nice, but of course you must keep both eyes toward the display, and reconciling different viewers so that interaction in the space is possible would be extremely tricky.

At all events, it’s good that there’s serious thought going into the next generation of displays. 3D TVs aren’t blowing anyone away, since there’s very little compelling 3D content and the glasses are annoying. What the next step will be, no one can say, but a pseudo-holographic eye-tracking display is a good a guess as any.

[via The Register]