Apple wins a patent for an Advanced iMac with multiple Projectors that could project content onto walls & desktop areas
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to a possible future iMac that includes projectors on the rear wall or other portions of the device that may project images onto nearby surfaces. Sensors such as gaze detection sensors, three-dimensional image sensors, cameras, and other components may operate through housing walls.
Control circuitry may display images on the display and may use projectors to display images onto nearby surfaces using captured images, gaze detection information, and other information from input-output devices.
The electronic device, illustrated as an iMac-like device, may include wireless circuitry. The wireless circuitry may be located in the housing or the stand for the housing and may be used in transmitting or receiving wireless power and/or wireless communications signals.
The stand may include a glass layer, clear polymer layer, other transparent material and/or other material. A display, wireless circuitry, or other components may operate through the transparent material and/or other materials of the stand.
Technically, while the device illustrated in their granted patent is a desktop in the form of a possible future iMac, Apple notes that the invention could apply to a host of other devices including a MacBook, XR Headset and more.
Leaping to the heart of the granted patent we see patent FIG. 8 below which is a rear perspective view of an iMac (device #10). The rear portion #20R of the iMac may have windows (e.g., portions that are not covered by ink or other opaque masking material) such as a window in area #44.
A camera (e.g., a digital image sensor and lens) may be mounted under a window in area #44 so that images may be captured of objects located to the rear of the iMac. The cameras may operate at visible wavelengths, infrared wavelengths, and/or ultraviolet wavelengths.
A wireless input device such as an Apple Pencil #41 may be supported using a support structure such as tray #42 and/or may be coupled magnetically to a portion of the iMac's back housing.
A projector may be located in the area of the backside display such as area #48 (e.g., beneath a clear window). Projectors may also be located behind sidewall portions 20W and/or front portion 20F.
During operation, the projectors may project images onto nearby surfaces such as walls, a tabletop or other support surface on which device 10 is resting (e.g., images may be projected through glass housing walls or other transparent housing walls such as transparent polymer walls).
Projected images may have the same resolution as other displayed images (e.g., an image being displayed on display 14) or may have a higher resolution or a lower (coarser) resolution.
A sensor such as a three-dimensional image sensor may be mounted in the iMac's housing (#20). For example, a three-dimensional image sensor may be formed in area #50 of rear housing portion #20R or other portion of housing 20. The three-dimensional image sensor may be a structured light sensor that has a light-emitting device such as device #52 that emits an array of light beams through the iMac's housing. The light beams may be, for example, infrared light beams.
Device #52 on the rear of the iMac may include an array of lasers (e.g., vertical cavity surface emitting lasers) that generate the infrared light beams. The three dimensional image sensor may also include a light detector such as infrared image sensor #54 that gathers images of the infrared light beams through the iMac's housing as the infrared light beams illuminate a target object.
In some arrangements, accessory devices such as a camera accessory device (#56) may be coupled to the iMac's housing using magnets. Further, device #56 may include one or more cameras, a gaze tracking system, a projector or other display, and/or other accessory that supplies additional input-output devices.
Apple's patent FIG. 10 below is a cross-sectional side view of an iMac-like device with projectors and electrically adjustable shutters.
Apple's patent FIG. 11 below is a perspective view of this possible future iMac (device #10) in a system environment in which projectors are being used to project images onto surfaces in and around the iMac.
As shown in FIG. 11 above, a first projector located in a left rear portion of the iMac's housing may project image #64 in direction #62 onto a wall or other surface, whereas a second projector located in a right rear portion of the housing may project image #68 in direction #66 onto a wall or other surface to the right of the iMac.
If desired, accessory projectors could also be provided that link wirelessly to the iMac to project images onto nearby surfaces. For example, accessory projector #70 may project image #64 in direction #72 and/or accessory projector #74 may project image #68 in direction #76.
If desired, additional images may be projected by projectors in the iMac. For example, image #82 may be projected in direction #84 from a projector in region #80 of the iMac. Image #82 may, for example, be projected onto a tabletop or other support surface on which stand #24 and the iMac are resting and/or may be projected onto other surfaces under, to the side of, behind, and/or in front of the iMac.
Projected image #82 may, as an example, include content that is extended from main iMac display and/or that is related to the content of the main display 14.
As an example, if a view of a grassy park is display on display #14, projected image 82 may include a grassy lawn that extends from grass in the image on display 14 and/or may include a diffuse green light or other light that is thematically associated with the grass being displayed on the display.
Apple's patent is mainly focused on the new projects and mechanics of the invention. However, in one stingy example, Apple notes that if a view of a grassy park is displayed on the iMac's display, projected images may include a grassy lawn that extends from grass in the image on the display to the projection of grass or green color on the tabletop.
One could imagine that this could be an interesting feature when playing video games or even a movie in the future.
Apple's lead engineer/designer is nonother than Paul X Wang who is one of the most creative at Apple. The original patent was filed under us-provisional-application US 62729364 that was granted today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.