updated 09:45 am EST, Thu November 6, 2008
Apple Head Track Patent
The US Patent Office today published two Apple patent filings that reveal the company having researched a unique head-tracking display technology designed to replicate the theater experience. Noting that watching a fixed view on a screen may be tiring, the company says it has developed a system that would let users mimic an auditorium, a baseball park, a movie theater or other environment by giving them a virtual position in the theater and panning, skewing or stretching the picture to reflect the view.
This positioning could also be used to add in a visual overlay of an audience and to replicate the audio heard in one of these environments; users could even choose from an on-screen menu to mimic a real-world environment such as Fenway Park or Madison Square Garden.
Importantly, the company claims to have developed a "personal display device" that would make this feature and more possible: intended as a wearable set of goggles, the display would react to head and possibly eye movement to change the orientation of the picture based on the user's intended gaze. Other interpretations could also recognize "other body parts" or deliberately introduce lag into the shift of perspective to reduce viewer fatigue.
As with most patents, it's not known whether Apple has any intentions to translate its work into a production device. However, the patents were originally submitted in late February and are partly credited to Tony Fadell, who is just leaving the company but is considered one of the key architects behind the iPod and its business model. The patent explains that the personal display device could attach to iPhones and iPods as well as computers and other more traditional devices.