Apple Could Bring AR Navigation to its Smartphones and Smart Glasses
Apple is reportedly filed a patent for an augmented reality headset or AR glasses that could hit the market by 2020 or 2021 according to reports emerging from various tech news outlets. The clues on this development along with the potential features of this future AR headset have emerged out of a recently granted patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
While the patent does not specifically mention anything about Apple AR glasses, it talks of a “head-mounted display” and describes a method for representing points of interest (POI) within the view of a real environment on a mobile device which is practically the working definition of augmented reality that entails superimposing virtual content onto the real world and viewing this via an AR lens.
Apple’s augmented reality headset will be capable of recognizing objects within a user’s environment. It will subsequently display information on the known points of interest that will satisfy various needs. The patent filed describes a possible application of this device for “tour guidance for exploring in urban environment”.
The patent says the AR technology could be used in identifying specific points of interest in homes, inside vehicles and in various other locations. This feature will come in quite handy when one is searching for lost objects or when someone is trying to highlight something about a room that one would not have otherwise noticed.
Apple first applied for the patent in April 2017 and the application was only granted by the USPTO on 27th of February 2019. However, the granting of the patent application is not a guarantee that the product will see the light of day. Oftentimes, companies apply for patents for technologies that will not even be realized. However, the approval of the patent application has set the tech circles abuzz with rumors that the tech giant will be working on its AR headset with the intention of releasing it as soon as possible. These rumors have always been swirling around thanks to Apple’s consistent drive in the recent years in acquiring various AR startups, its introduction of the ARKit in its iOS as well as Apple CEO’s strong interest in AR which he has insinuated in various public pronouncements.
It is important to keep in mind that the patent application is not specifically focused on the development of an AR headset but rather in its application on the iPad and iPhone. However, with the mention of the “head-mounted display” in the patent application, there is the possibility that a device is also in the offing. The patent has mentioned “semi-transparent display” similar to the smart glasses and various other AR products that might be used together with this AR technology. The patent application was also accompanied by diagrams which indicate a device that is reminiscent of augmented reality smart glasses.
Apple’s proposed AR tech startup will definitely be more comfortable than holding your smartphone in front of your face whenever you need to use the AR navigational feature. In Google Maps, the tech giant hoped to bypass or minimize that inconvenience by advising users to use its AR navigational feature sparingly.
That this device will eventually be launched into the market isn’t a certainty but the patent is a pointer to the direction AR is likely to take in the future where the focus will increasingly shift to offering users data through augmented reality in technology-assisted navigation.