A Twitter tipster said last week that if Apple
can hold a live event by October 27th, the company will unveil its next big thing, Apple Glass
. Some believe that the product will be a mixed reality (AR/VR) headset with the AR glasses scheduled for the following year. Still, others believe that the latter version of the device will be introduced in 2020-2021.
Apple applies for a patent to protect technology allowing users to manipulate virtual objects on a screen
Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published
) a patent application filed by Apple at the beginning of this year. Titled "Manipulation of Virtual Objects using a Tracked Physical Object," the technology will allow a user to manipulate what Apple refers to in the patent application as a virtual object in a computer-generated reality (CGR). This is done by moving around a "proxy object" while on the screen the latter uses an overlay of the AR image.
Illustration from patent application shows how the manipulation of a proxy object will move around a virtual representation on a display
For example, let's say that on your screen, you are looking at an AR image of an iPad. In real life, you might be moving around an iPad-sized piece of wood as the "proxy object." You'll be able to move or turn the wood and the display will show the iPad in the exact same orientation as the wood, including the tablet's screen and buttons. As Apple writes in the patent application, "Input is received from the proxy device using an input device of the proxy device that represents a request to create a fixed alignment between the virtual object and the virtual representation in a three-dimensional ("3-D") coordinate space defined for the content."
In the application, Apple explains the thinking that inspired it to file with the USPTO. "Various electronic devices exist, such as head-mound devices (also known as headsets and HMDs), with displays that present users with a computer-generated reality (CGR) environment in which they may be fully immersed in a surrounding physical environment, fully immersed in a virtual reality environment comprising virtual objects, or anywhere in between. While direct manipulation of physical objects in the surrounding physical environment is available to users naturally, the same is not true for virtual objects in the CGR environment. Lacking a means to directly interact with virtual objects presented to a user as part of a CGR environment limits a degree to which the virtual objects are integrated into the CGR environment. Thus, it may be desirable to provide users with a means of directly manipulating virtual objects presented as part of CGR environments."
Speaking of patents, last year Apple was awarded one for a smart ring
that would be used to control another device. In the patent documentation, Apple said that touchscreen devices are "cumbersome, inconvenient, or inefficient for certain tasks and applications." Apple pointed out that after holding an iPhone or iPad for a lengthy period of time, a user's hands and/or arms could get fatigued. And in a more frightening scenario suggestive of a Lifetime movie, Apple noted that the light given off by a touchscreen device could be "inappropriate in certain social environments or even dangerous if it gives away the position of a threatened user."
A new patent application for a smart ring published today by the USPTO
(or as Apple is now calling the product, "a wireless finger-worn device") is titled "Devices, Methods, and Graphical User Interfaces for a Wearable Electronic Ring Computing Device." The ring uses a touchscreen interface to send commands to another electronic device like, oh, say an iPhone for instance. It also could be a useful tool for Apple Glass users by allowing them to control their headset by using the smart ring. The ring is sized to be worn on the user's first index finger on either hand.
Illustration from Apple's new smart ring patent application
Amazon introduced the Echo Loop smart ring last year and the device pairs with a smartphone to allow the user to access Alexa and can even dial a phone number using the paired phone. The Echo Loop, however, does not feature touch input.