Rumors of Apple’s augmented reality glasses have been whispering in the wind for a while now, and new details have recently emerged thanks to website Patently Apple (opens in new tab) unearthing a slurry of patents being granted to the Cupertino firm.
After filing a patent for a catadioptric optical system – a series of lenses designed to project images into a user’s eyes – in early February this year, Apple has been granted 53 patents, covering its AR wearable, 3D mapping technology, and a more intelligent iPhone Home screen, amongst others, as discovered by Patently Apple (opens in new tab).
The latest patent filed by Apple, though, details how an augmented reality headset could be used alongside an iPhone or iPad.
Feel the touch
The details in the patent describes how the AR glasses can be used to view “an augmented reality environment” with images from a computer overlaid on top.
The patent also explains that viewers can then use a “touch-sensitive surface” to interact with that environment. This means that the wearable will potentially be able to communicate wirelessly with an iPhone, iPad, or a computer.
Another patent granted to the iPhone maker describes a "method for representing points of interest in a view of a real environment on a mobile device". Putting that in layman’s terms, it implies that certain indicators could be overlaid into an augmented reality scene, helping users locate items (for example, applying it to the company's Find My iPhone feature, or say, locating keys with a Bluetooth tracking tag) in a space.
While this particular patent doesn’t mention the AR glasses, it does mention a “head-mounted display”, meaning Apple may still use this technology in its wearable.
Of course, it's worth noting that all this is of course speculative: Apple applies for a huge number of patents, many of which don’t see the light of day after they’ve been granted. So whether these ideas will be implemented or not remains to be seen. According to CNET (opens in new tab), Apple is hoping to release its AR glasses some time in 2020.