Apple has a couple of brand new patent applications (via AppleInsider) out this morning that are quite different but that both offer a window into potential improvements being worked on in R&D. One deals with a method for introducing better, more accurate color rendering to digital displays, and the other involves improving its current Maps offering with layered on data culled from the Internet.
The display patent application involves “quantum dot-enhanced displays,” which uses components that can be smaller even than biological viruses to fine-tune emitted light. These quant dots are capable of emitting a very narrow spectrum of light, and that would allow for greater control over color accuracy and distribution.
QD displays have a couple other advantages over existing tech including LCD, LED and OLED, including an environmental edge. QDs use size instead of chemicals to alter color, which is more environmentally friendly, and it’s actually cheaper to manufacture and easier to scale than traditional display tech. Displays seem to continually be a limiting factor when it comes to Apple’s ability to meet initial demand on its products, so that could be a big selling point.
As for the Maps application, it suggests a means by which users could layer on different data stats to a basic map view. Google already does this sort of thing with its own maps product, especially on the web, but it’d be interesting to see Apple add more contextual options to its mobile offering. The other big difference here is that in Apple’s patent, search would change according to which layer is being displayed at any given time.
Possible rich data categories that act as layers could include weather, nature, sightseeing, traffic, commerce and historical housing data, according to the patent filing, and searching with any one of these layers active would provide different results. So searching for “Food” when you have the travel layer active would bring up restaurants, but doing the same when you’ve got the commerce layer up would yield grocery store results, for instance.
Apple’s mapping initiative will almost certainly lag Google’s for the foreseeable future in some regards, but adding this kind of flexible rich data approach would make it a lot more contextually useful. The only problem is that it also introduces complexity, which Apple is not prone to do when at all possible.
Both of these patents at least offer a look at strategic paths that Apple could take in terms of delivering the next generation of its products. I’d peg the QD display one as having more potential for near-term benefits, as some display manufacturers are already gearing up to offer that tech at production scale.