On March 19, 2010, Patently Apple presented a special report titled "Apple Files a Mysterious Projector Patent" which provided an overview of pico projectors coming to Apple's media players, future MacBooks and a possible new product which would combine a pico projector with Apple's AirPort Extreme. Others saw it as a natural for Apple TV and all in all, pico projectors will be for work and play. In today's patent, Apple's R&D team all but confirms that pico projectors are indeed coming to future MacBooks and details a sweeping overview of the system in a patent published yesterday. The patent also generally confirms rumors of HDMI coming to Macs – being that pico projector based MacBooks list this as a possible feature.
Patent Background & Overview
Various people, including business professionals, students, organizations and even families may present visual and/or video presentations to an individual or group. The presentations may take place in a number of settings be it a meeting, conference, educational setting, social setting and so forth. The presentation may also take on various forms including video or audiovisual presentations. Often, the presentation may require a projection system so that the slides, pictures, video and so on may be displayed on a surface so that the projected images may be viewed by the intended audience.
For example, when presenting a slide show of vacation photos, the presenter often has their photos stored on their laptop. The presenter may wish to share their vacation photos with others and this may require the viewers to gather around the presenter's laptop screen to view these photos.
Although an external projector may be connected to the laptop, an integrated system may advantageously affect factors including, size of the system, power, usability, image processing capabilities and so forth. Thus, an integrated system and method for image projection may be useful.
In the big picture, Apple's patent generally relates to image projection systems and, more specifically, to an image processing system integrated into a portable computing system.
Generally, one embodiment of the present invention may take the form of an image processing system, such as a portable computing system, including at least a primary image output, a secondary image output, at least one camera and at least two sensors.
The secondary image output may project an image that may be stored in a main or a temporary memory of the portable computing system. The camera may capture the projected image, which may be used by the portable computing system to correct image distortion in the projected image.
The portable computing system may perform such image processing on a video processor, central processing unit, graphical processing unit and so on. Additionally, the portable computing system may obtain and use data such as depth measurements to correct for image distortion or for movement of the portable computing system after calibration of the portable computing system or its secondary image output.
The depth measurements may be supplied by depth sensors located, for example, adjacent to or nearby the secondary image output. Further, additional depth sensors may be included on the portable computing system in other locations such as on the bottom of the portable computing system. The additional depth sensors may supply depth measurements that may be used to correct for any pitch and roll of the portable computing system.
Other types of sensors such as accelerometers may also be used to correct for pitch, yaw, tile, roll and so on. Ambient light sensors may also be used to correct for ambient light compensation.
Future MacBook with Integrated Projection System
Apple's patent FIG. 1A depicts a MacBook with an integrated image processing system. As depicted in FIG. 1A, the operator of the MacBook may be able to use their keyboard while projecting images at the same time. More specifically, by locating the projector on the side of the MacBook, the user may orient it such that the MacBook is approximately orthogonal to the projection surface (see figure 2 below).
It should be noted that various interfaces may be used, such as transition minimized differential signaling ("TMDS") which may be used for high speed transmission of serial data, high definition multimedia interface ("HDMI") which may be used for the transmission of uncompressed digital streams, red green blue ports, display ports ("DP") and so on. HDMI has been rumored to be coming to the Mac and this is one patent presenting it as fact on a future Macbook.
The MacBook, system wise, will consider the projection system as simply being a secondary display
Apple's patent FIG. 2 noted below depicts an example of a future MacBook projecting an image onto a projection surface 180.
The projection surface used by the secondary image output 110 may be curved and/or textured. In such cases, the secondary image output may compensate for the surface's irregularities. Further, the secondary image output may compensate for the projection surface being at an angle, in addition to various other surface irregularities on the projection screen such as multiple bumps or projecting an image into a corner. Further, in this embodiment, the projection surface may be any type of surface such as a wall, a whiteboard, a door and so on, and need not be free of surface planar irregularities.
Apple credits Aleksandar Pance as the sole inventor of patent application 20100079653, originally filed in Q3 2008.
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