In an exclusive interview with ABC News in September, Apple's CEO Tim Cook told reporter Roberts that AR "gives the capability for both of us to sit and be very present, talking to each other, but also have other things -- visually -- for both of us to see. Maybe it's something we're talking about, maybe it's someone else here who's not here present but who can be made to appear to be present. There's a lot of really cool things there." Cook added that "Augmented reality will take some time to get right, but I do think that it's profound." While Cook's enthusiasm for future AR applications sounded interesting it was definitely vague at best. But if anything, Cook focused on an example of two people communicating with each other face to face and visually sharing 'something' that is virtual to enhance a conversation. Well today, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a virtual interaction notice board user interaction system that may shed a little light on a possible future AR user experience on our televisions via Apple TV.
While the patent definitely gives you the impression that this virtual interaction system will work with iOS devices such as an iPad, the invention spends time discussing the virtual interaction system in context with a future version of Apple TV.
Apple specifically noted that "The electronic device optionally displays the noticeboard, including the image of the object, on the display. In some embodiments, the electronic device is located at a first location, and the noticeboard, including the image of the object, is concurrently accessible on another electronic device at a second location, different from the first location, such as in FIG. 6BB (e.g., the noticeboard is displayed on a television at a person's home, and is also concurrently displayed on another television or display device at another person's home).
Apple further notes that in "the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 6BB, person A 518A and person B 518B are optionally video chatting with each other. Additionally, person A 518A is holding object 608, as shown in view 628A and video data 606B (as seen by person B 518B in front of display 514B). In one or more of the manners previously described, electronic device A has optionally recognized object 608 held by person A 518A in video data 606B (a portion of the video data being exchanged between electronic device A and electronic device B as part of the video chat taking place between person A 518A and person B 518B), and has added image 610 of object 608 to noticeboard 602. As can be seen in FIG. 6BB, the virtual noticeboard is optionally accessible from both electronic device A and electronic device B, such that both person A 518A and person B 518B see the same virtual noticeboard while video chatting, for example.
Apple TV with Built-In Depth Camera + In Air Gestures
In order for both people to video chat on TV, Apple illustrates in patent FIG. 5B above that "In some embodiments, electronic device #500 is optionally a device such as a set top box or other user interface generating device that is in communication with a remote control and a display device. Optionally, electronic device #500 is coupled to a camera #516. The camera is optionally included in electronic device #500" – which is Apple TV.
Technically Apple notes that in some embodiments, the camera corresponds to optical sensors such as a red-green-blue (RGB) image sensor, a depth image sensor, and an infrared (IR) image sensor. Apple further notes that an air gesture input can be detected by the optical camera coupled to Apple TV.
More specifically Apple notes that "air gesture inputs are optionally received by the electronic device to reject, add or replace images. The air gestures include a person raising their hand with their palm facing the camera, moving their hand up, down, left and/or right.
The camera system allows users to hold items up to be scanned into the system so that they could be shared with those you're video chatting with. Once scanned the item or photo could be sent to the receiver's virtual noticeboard.
This is a perfect vehicle for Apple's future Augmented Reality technology to be applied and it fully supports what Tim Cook described about AR on ABC News earlier this year.
System Overview in a Glance
Apple filed patent application 20160344972 back in Q3 2015 which was made public today by USTPO. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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