It’s true that Apple files a zillion patents a year (that’s an exact number, by the way) but when they file one regarding “peripheral treatment for head-mounted displays” it is going to get a little attention.
The general premise has been seen before (most often in high-budget Hollywood blockbusters): an image is projected onto a user’s eyes, appearing like a screen floating out in front of an individual’s field of vision. Apple’s new patent is different because it suggests taking advantage of the peripheral vision as well as the direct vision of a user.
The description from the patent reads:
“A first display projects an image viewable by a first eye of the user. A first peripheral light element is positioned to emit light of one or more colors in close proximity to the periphery of the first display. A receives data representing a source image, processes the data representing the source image to generate a first image for the first display and to generate a first set of peripheral conditioning signals for the first peripheral light element, directs the first image to the first display, and directs the first set of peripheral conditioning signals to the first peripheral light element.”
This patent sounds similar to Google’s “Project Glass,” only Google is looking for a walk around device as opposed to the two image, immersion approach that Apple is looking at (which should lessen the feelings of motion sickness some users have reported when using head-mounted displays).
It would be nice if patent appilcations translated directly into market-ready products, because this is one that could be incredibly interesting and exciting. Consider a future generation of the iPad that masquerades as a wrist-watch and can be viewed at whatever size (resolution) you choose? No more debates over which screen size is the best for this task or that purpose.