Apple applied for this patent back in 2006, but unlike much of the patent speculation that surrounds one of the world's most successful (and most sued) companies, this one has just been granted by the USPTO.
Forget some of the clunky implementations of 3-D tech — the ones which require you to either wear glasses or sit in one of several sweet viewing spots. Apple's system relies upon a combined projector/screen/camera system to create its glasses-free imagery. Two separate images are beamed onto the textured pixels of a special screen, one for each eye of the viewer. The 3-D image can then be reconstructed, autostereographically, in the viewer's brain with no need for glasses.
But Apple's system uses a camera to detect the facial position of viewers, and a dynamic projection system that's capable of beaming different images at the right angle so that each viewer receives a different 3-D effect. The result, according to Apple, is a "realistic holographic" visual experience, and also allows for 3-D "user input" via the camera—perhaps akin to MS's Kinect.
Does this mean we can finally expect Apple to leap into the gaming console market, complete with a 3-D display system that'll knock the Xbox's socks off? Probably not. But the tech could certainly plug into future advertising plans, resulting in a very "personalized" 3-D video-ad experience that fans of that particular Tom Cruise movie will find very familiar.
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