Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals yet another PrimeSense derived projection system for future iDevices that will use 3D mapping for various applications including interpreting in-air gesture recognition. Many PrimeSense are directly linked to applications related to virtual reality. During Apple's financial conference call on Tuesday, Apple's CEO Tim Cook fielded a question about virtual reality. He replied that "In terms of VR, I don't think it's a niche. It's really cool and has some interesting applications."
Apple's patent is obviously very technical covering an optoelectronic device including a semiconductor substrate, an array of optical emitters arranged on the substrate in a two-dimensional pattern, a projection lens and a diffractive optical element (DOE). The projection lens is mounted on the semiconductor substrate and is configured to collect and focus light emitted by the optical emitters so as to project optical beams containing a light pattern corresponding to the two-dimensional pattern of the optical emitters on the substrate. The DOE is mounted on the substrate and is configured to produce and project multiple overlapping replicas of the pattern.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 noted below is a schematic diagram of an integrated optical projector #30. In a typical application, the projector produces and projects a pattern of light spots onto an object or scene, in order to enable an imaging and processing system (not shown) to analyze the projected pattern and estimate a three-dimensional (3-D) map of the object or scene. The 3-D map, also referred to as a depth map, can be used for various purposes, such as for user gesture recognition as part of a Man-Machine Interface (MMI). The projector may be integrated into various host systems such Apple's iDevices.
Some of the other projection patents that Apple inherited from PrimeSense were covered in these Patently Apple reports:
One: Apple Granted a 3D Camera Patent Focused on Time-Coded Illumination
Two: Apple Granted 40 Patents Today Covering 3D Mapping, an Apple Watch Band Design and More
Three: Apple was Granted 21 Patents Today Covering a 3D Projection System for an Interactive Gaming UI & Beyond
Four: Apple Granted Patent based on PrimeSense Invention relating to Augmented Reality and Adaptive Projectors
Five: Apple Granted 49 Patents Today Covering a 3D Scanner/Projector for a Gaming Console, an Apple Watch UI & More
Six: Apple Granted 36 Patents Today Covering a Second Generation Kinect-Like Projection System for Gaming & Beyond
Seven: Apple Granted their Second Patent this Quarter for an Adaptive Augmented Reality Projector
Apple patent application 20160025993 was originally filed in Q2 2014. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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