In these early months of 2017 just about every major tech company has some sort of virtual or augmented reality product either on store shelves or coming in the future. Every company except one.
Apple is a tough nut to crack when it comes to future projects. It seems fairly clear from rumors, industry insiders and a spat of recent acquisitions that the gargantuan corporation is working on something in the VR/AR space. However, while rivals like Google, Microsoft and Sony are already well on their immersive way, Apple remains silent on what its immersive projects may be. Today, a newly published patent may be giving us our best look yet on what the folks in Cupertino are cooking up.
The patent is for a “wearable information system having at least one camera.” According to the abstract:
“The invention is related to a wearable information system having at least one camera, the information system operable to have a low-power mode and a high power mode. The information system is configured such that the high-power mode is activated by a detection of at least one object in at least one field of view of the at least one camera.”
Claims for this patent provide further details as to the scope and focus of the ideas. One claim explains that this creation would feature “a head-worn display and at least one camera attached to the display being configured to receive information in a same viewing direction as the head worn display.”
The additional claims focus primarily on the importance of the low and high power modes which seem to be triggered depending on what the camera is detecting. This camera would be capable of tracking “intensity information, color information, and depth information.”
The drawings inside this patent are mostly of flow charts detailing the way the system will operate. However, one drawing shows a human figure using what appears to be a smartphone to analyze different points of reference on a nearby building. Another image shows a user wearing a similar device around their neck and walking through an art gallery.
“As soon as an interesting piece comes into sight, the system can ‘wake up’ and move to a high power mode, for example in order to download interesting content and display it using Augmented Realty or in order to start an audio-clip, explaining the piece,” an excerpt from the patent reads.
So in essence what we’re seeing here is a patent for a very small piece of a technology that could be highly relevant for AR — that is, the ability for whatever wearable computer you’re using to have enough power to last an entire day. This patent covers that by outlining a low power mode when you don’t need the device.