Apple patent-watching is sometimes surprising, sometimes bemusing, but a newly-revealed patent for built-in projectors into Apple gizmos should be filed in the awesome category–imagine the future iPhone and iPad designs!
Apple began patenting built-in pico projector ideas back in mid-2009, but its research and development teams have clearly taken this tech to heart since the new patent application is way more advanced. It talks both about including projector tech in different Apple gizmos, and about having these devices all chat wirelessly to make the projector experience super-clever.
The most attention-grabbing part of the patent is about embedded projectors (or possibly closely-paired projector accessories) in a future iPhone. The idea that you could then play your iPhone-stored movies anywhere is immediately attractive: Picture how that could change boring train commutes into work–or a rooftop party. But Apple also plays up the business angle, continuing the iPad-iWork business app vibe, with the notion that a projector-equipped iPhone could be used to pitch a proposal to your boss or a potential client, literally anywhere you happen to be–even on a long elevator ride. (Imagine wowing a potential employer by projecting your resume onto his office wall to highlight your experience.)
It would also let you use your iPhone as a super-smart presentation tool, should you be giving a Keynote talk some point–since the device would be both the presentation controller, and projector too. Of course if you need more powerful interactivity with content like this, you’ll be needing a more powerful mobile computer…so the patent also mentions a pico-projector embedded in a MacBook lid.
The patent mentions that several projector- and camera-equipped devices could all be networked to work in harmony. For one, this could help the projector get the picture quality correct–with real-time feedback from an iPhone camera over wireless. But more excitingly it could allow for gadget control interactivity, which brings up more thoughts about motion control gaming, probably thanks to all the excitement stirred up by Sony’s Move and Microsoft’s Natal.
What about having a projector (possibly a more powerful one than can be fitted into a portable device) squeezed into a router, possibly even one like the Airport Express? Text in the patent mentions “in some cases, the projection system may include a wireless router and act as a hub,” which of course gets us pondering about some future Airport/Apple TV mashup, with local storage and wireless net access, plus a projector system. Does that sound like the core of your future home media system?