Apple is researching using AR glasses to show virtual displays that curve around the MacBook user, possibly tracking eyes and hands for interaction.
Augmented reality has great potential and Apple is researching a unique way to use AR to add a huge virtual screen to a MacBook and other devices. While the newest 16-inch MacBook Pro has a good size display for a laptop, it’s small compared to a computer monitor or a TV. It’s apparent from the trend of ever-increasing screen sizes that consumers want to fill their view with a picture to see more detail and experience better immersion.
The first televisions had tiny screens but quickly grew as fast as display technology would allow. Now entire walls might be devoted to the TV. The iPhone started with just a 3.5-inch screen, yet the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 seems fairly common now, and even the 6.7-inch iPhone Pro Max doesn’t feel too large. Humans are visual creatures and always want to see more.
Apple agrees with that sentiment and the USPTO recently published a patent application that would make the display of any Apple device appear huge. The MacBook seems like a perfect fit since it has the capability to connect to a large monitor, yet is a lightweight and portable device. Apple’s patent document describes a way to use a virtual display that extends out from the top and both sides of a MacBook, quadrupling the screen size.
Apple’s Giant AR Computer Display
What Apple describes in its computer-generated display patent application might be the most practical use of AR yet. Rather than devise an entirely new way to interact with a virtual world, this method makes use of a computer that is already familiar and simply uses AR to create virtual displays that hover around the MacBook’s or other device’s screen. While the first several images in the document show a TV or monitor with a person using a tablet or phone as the AR device, this would be a bit awkward. The real value comes when the AR display is shown via a head-mounted device (HMD) or AR glasses.
Apple patent application covers this usage as well, describing possible control via eye-tracking and hand-tracking. However, since one of the screens being increased is a MacBook, it would be easier to use the normal keyboard and mouse. The AR display would be a quick and easy way to expand the screen to a much larger size. Apple explains that the virtual displays would align with the real screen and could stack on the sides and top or even curve around the laptop with images and controls surrounding the user for a very immersive way to use a MacBook. That might sound futuristic and it probably is. Apple’s patent application might not ever come to market or it could take years of development before augmented reality can help make MacBook displays huge.
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