Apple could be working on virtual reality projector, patents show

The company has been granted a patent for an ‘adaptive projector’, which can project images onto surfaces

Apple could be working on a new augmented reality projector, which would allow it to make computers without even adding a screen.

The company has been granted a patent for an “adaptive” projector, reports Patently Apple. The patents seem to refer to a tool that would be able to scan spaces and then project certain images onto surfaces.

The invention appears to be made up of a camera, mounted on top of a computer, that is able to scan a room for what objects are inside of it. It also has a projector — which appears to be mounted inside a pair of glasses — so that information can be shown on the surfaces that have been scanned by the computer.

The patent documents show a person looking at a blank book, for instance, and having text projected onto its pages. The device would be able to tell where a persons’ hand and the book that they are reading are, for instance, and adjust what is being projected accordingly.

That means that the feature is augmented reality, since it adds things to the existing world — like Microsoft’s Hololens headset — rather than full virtual reality which allows people to explore an entirely fictional space.

Apple was granted another patent for an adaptive projector in October.

Apple appears to have been working on such a plan since at least December 2013, Patently Apple points out, when it got patents for inventions including a 3D interface controlled by where people looked and a projector that used glasses. Those inventions were gained through Apple’s acquisition of Primesense, a 3D sensing company that is now owned by Apple.

Apple files for a huge range of patents and they often turn up in entirely different forms, or are never realised at all. The company first filed for the patent in 2012, and so it is possible that the idea was dropped before it was granted.