Future iPhones can display 3D images without ‘Apple Glass’

Apple is investigating how to present a 3D Apple AR Image on a flat screen, such as that of an iPhone or iPad.

Just because Apple has successfully obtained a patent on new technology, it does not automatically guarantee that there will be a future product that uses it. Sometimes the patent is the smallest glimpse into a bigger plan that leaves you wondering what else is being done about it.

That is the case with the recently granted patent called “Driving Electronic Device Split Screens.” Apple is pretty clear on what it does, but the patent discussion is so focused that it leaves you asking questions.

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What Apple here describes the ability for a flat screen to display a 3D image. So an iPad or iPhone could display AR or VR video without the user having to wear a headset like “Apple Glass.”

“ It can be difficult to deliver this type of content on a multi-function device like a smartphone or tablet, “says Apple,” without generating visible artifacts such as motion blur, luminance offsets, or other effects that can be unpleasant or even dizzy for the viewer. ”.

“Apple Glass”, or any headset, will place a screen in front of each eye. They work together, but the two are separate. It’s not like it’s simple to send separate images to each screen and keep them in sync, but what the eye sees is under the control of the device.

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With an iPhone or iPad on your desk, or held in your hand, the device can’t tell which way you’re looking. It also can’t count on the fact that you’re looking, although Apple has previously applied for at least one patent on gaze detection.

What this recently disclosed patent doesn’t cover is how a user could look at the screen, how precisely they need it to hold the device. What it does cover, however, is how the screen works to achieve this.

It starts with the way we’ve seen flat screens do this before: in feature films.

“For example, a movie theater may provide users with polarized or colored glasses or goggles that visually separate two simultaneous (and usually overlapping) images that, due to the separation of the viewer’s eyes, add three-dimensional depth to the simultaneous images. displayed. ”Says Apple.

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“This depth can be used to provide virtual reality (VR) content in which an immersive three-dimensional computer-generated environment is created for the user,” continues the patent, “and / or to provide augmented reality (AR) content in the that Computer-generated content is added to a direct or camera-generated view of the real-world environment surrounding the user. ”

As long as you can divide the image so that one goes to each eye, you can evoke the 3D effect. Apple does not describe ways to ensure that each eye cannot see what the other is pointing, but does detail how the screen can display two different images.

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“A display includes an array of screen pixels,” Apple explains. “The pixel matrix of the screen is organized into rows and columns of pixels.” The patent notes that these displays generally “operate rows of pixels sequentially from the top to the bottom of a pixel array,” but this need not be the case.

Detail of the patent showing the pixels of a screen controlled as two independent screens

In fact, it should not be the case. However, if you present two images, doing it in a row of pixels at the same time “may cause systematic luminance compensation visible to the left and right parts of the screen” when the image is a split screen.

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“This can be particularly problematic if the strobe or pulsing backlight is implemented to reduce motion blur,” continues Apple.

Apple’s proposal is that the different pixel lines are controlled separately and used to display the two different images. “ split screen mode, the rows of pixels… are operated alternately. ”

Most of the patent describes different display technologies and also different methods to ensure that images are maintained over time.

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