Believe it or not, Apple was well ahead of the pack when they were first granted a patent for a video headset display back in 2009. Back then, there was no Google Glass or Sony video headset. Apple's original patent was filed in 2006 which was in and around the time that Apple was working on Project Purple which was the code name for the iPhone. Since that time Apple has been working on other aspects or features for a possible future headset, with one them being the addition of telephony. With Apple recently acquiring PrimeSense who has a patent regarding a headset on record, there appears to be new interest in advancing Apple's personal display system. With PrimeSense making Microsoft's Kinect system a reality and their technology being at the heart of new 3D camera phones like Google's Project Tango coming to market this year, the PrimeSense team may be able to breathe new life into Apple's video headset project. Today, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals that they're advancing one of their video headset patents by adding new and improved patent claims to strengthen and update their invention. As Tim Cook recently stated, "we care about every detail. And when you care about every detail and getting it right, it takes a bit longer to do that." Longer term projects such as this cool video headset would definitely fit Cook's philosophical view like a glove
Apple's Patent Overview
Apple's invention relates to a personal display system with which a user may adjust the configuration of displayed media is provided. The personal display system may include an electronic device operative to provide media to a personal display device operative to display the media. Using one or more optical and digital components, the personal display device may adjust displayed media to overlay features of a theater, thus giving the user the impression of being in the theater.
In some embodiments, the personal display device may receive a user selection of a seat in the theater, and may adjust the media display accordingly. In some embodiments, the personal display device may detect the user's movements using one or more sensors and may adjust the displayed image based on the user's movements. For example, the device may detect a user's head movement and cause the portion of media displayed to reflect the head movement.
Apple Advances Personal Display Device as Shown in Patent Claims
Apple has been working on this project for some time now. In today's patent application published by the US Patent Office we see that Apple has revisited their 2013 patent filing and in many ways strengthened their patent claims. The following are the key patent claims that have added and/or changed:
Claim #12: A personal display device for automatically adjusting a media display of selected media, comprising a processor, a display, and a sensor, the processor operative to: receive a user selection of a perspective from which to view the media; adjust the media to reflect the selected perspective; direct the display to display the adjusted media; enable the sensor to track user head movements; receive an output from the sensor indicating that the user moved his head; determine the manner in which to adjust the displayed media based on the received sensor output; and direct the display to adjust the media in the determined manner.
Claim #13: The personal display device of claim 12, wherein the processor is further operative to enable the sensor to track the user head movements in response to receiving a user input from a user interface.
Claim #14: The personal display device of claim 13, wherein the user interface comprises at least one of a button, a switch, and a touchpad.
Claim #15: The personal display device of claim 13, wherein the processor is further operative to disable the sensor from tracking the user head movements in response to receiving a second user input from the user interface.
Claim #16: The personal display device of claim 12, wherein the processor is further operative to receive a user selection to zoom the media.
Claim #17: A method for automatically adjusting a media display of selected media of a personal display device, comprising: receiving, by a processor of the personal display device, a user selection of a perspective from which to view the media; adjusting the media to reflect the selected perspective; directing a display of the personal display device to display the adjusted media; enabling a sensor to track user head movements; receiving an output from the sensor indicating that the user moved his head; determining the manner in which to adjust the displayed media based on the received sensor output; and directing the display to adjust the media in the determined manner.
Claim #18: The method of claim 17, comprising: enable the sensor to track the user head movements in response to receiving a user input from a user interface coupled to the processor.
Claim #19: The method of claim 18, wherein the user interface comprises at least one of a button, a switch, and a touchpad.
In Apple's patent FIG. 1 noted below we're able to see a perspective view of a personal display device in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. The personal display device #100 may include mid-frame 102, outer cover 104, inner cover 106, mounting frame 108, foam 110 and interface 112.
The mid-frame may form the outer support structure for personal display device 100. In some embodiments, suitable materials may include, for example, composite materials, plastics, metals, and metal alloys (e.g., steel, stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, or magnesium-based alloys).
Apple's patent FIG. 2 noted above shows a schematic view of a personal display system in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. The personal display system #200 may include personal display device #202, electronic device #204, and communications network #206. The personal display device may use the communications network to perform wireless and/or wired communications with one or more electronic devices within the communications network.
Apple notes that the personal display system may include several personal display devices coupled to one electronic device such an Apple TV for instance. Apple notes that the personal display system may include one personal display device coupled to several electronic devices in communication with each other (e.g., for multi-person video games).
In some embodiments, several personal display devices may simulate the experience of playing in a multi-player video game. For example, users may be different passengers in a racecar or drivers of different cars. Each user's personal display device may adjust the displayed media based on where the user is located in the game (e.g., the user sitting in the back seat behind the driver will see the back of the driver's head, or the user may see a different view of the outside world and of the other users' cars based on where the user's car is located on the road). In some embodiments, the personal display device may simulate the experience of playing in a first-person shooting game, in which the personal display device may display the game environment from the perspective of the user.
Getting the Real Movie Theater, Concert Hall or Ball Park Experience
The personal display device may be implemented in or as any type of display system such as, for example, a head mounted display, a television, a projection screen, an on-screen display of an electronic device, personal viewers and viewfinders found on camcorders and digital cameras, or any other suitable display system.
In some embodiments, the personal display device may simulate the experience of watching a movie in a movie theater.
Apple's patent FIG. 5 shows a schematic view of an illustrative display screen for selecting seats in a theater in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. In some embodiments, the personal display device may provide the user with an opportunity to view media as if the user were in a known theater, park or hall. For example, the personal display device may provide the user with an opportunity to view media associated with a baseball game as if the user were in a baseball stadium (e.g., Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium).
The display screen #500 may include listings #502 of selectable theaters for which representative information is stored on the personal display device. As used herein, the term theater will be understood to include any suitable movie theaters, performing art theaters, auditoriums, lecture halls, sports stadiums, or any other suitable environment for attending a performance. The user may select a listing by placing the highlight region #504 over the listing.
In some embodiments, the personal display device may provide an interface for the user to create a customized theater. In some embodiments, the personal display device may access a database that the user may search to identify a particular theater. In response to receiving a selection of a particular theater, the personal display device may download a seating map and other information for the selected particular theater. For example, the media display may be adjusted to simulate a viewing experience from any seat in a movie theater (e.g., a back left side seat, a middle-center seat, or a front-center seat).
Apple's patent pending invention also spends a great deal of time discussing the zoom feature of the glasses which in effect will act as you virtual binoculars so that you could view something clearer and larger. Think of paying for a seat at an Apple event. Your virtual seat is at the back and you want to zoom in on a particular product being displayed on stage or you want to view the particulars of slide being presented.
Apple notes that the "Electronic devices" noted in their invention may include any suitable electronic device for sending media to the personal display device. For example, electronic device may include a media player such as an iPod, iPhone, iPad, gaming console (or Apple TV) or any Mac.
If you've never read this patent, you may want to take a closer look at more of the details that are involved in this invention, here. Apple credits John Tang as the sole inventor of this patent application which was filed in September 2013. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
One last thing: This is a patent application and not a design patent. So the personal display system presented in Apple's patent figure is just an exploded view of a concept, not the final product. If any of you know Jony Ive's work, then you know that the design will end up being slick, light and very cool. So don't get caught up in the design looking old.
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