Apple’s Newest Patent Could Pave the Way for ‘Glasses Free’ 3D iPhones and More

Apple's Newest Patent Could Pave the Way for 'Glasses Free' 3D iPhones and More
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Augmented Reality (AR) is an impressive, emerging technology with a very promising future; one that could, perhaps one day down the road, effectively revolutionize the way in which we view, interact with, and experience the fullest depth of imagery on our mobile devices, computers, televisions, and more.

Samsung and Oculus, with their Gear VR and Rift hardware, respectively, have so far taken perhaps the greatest leap of faith— insofar as embracing the physical, hardware technology is concerned, at least. However, not only is it important to consider that there are a slew of other AR devices on the market — such as AR headsets from Zeiss, BOSSNEL, as well as 3D TVs from various industry heavyweights.

Yet the technology powering those devices, in and of itself, is likely to proliferate into other realms of the tech industry in the coming years — as more companies continue their race to bring the latest and greatest tech to market.

It’s not necessarily all about the hardware, either. While actual devices are certainly an integral component of bringing AR technology to the masses, the majority of industry insiders would attest that the software running the show is just as important.

And, in terms of software, well, Apple clearly has the upper hand there. After all, the Silicon Valley tech-giant has invested heavily in AR technology recently — acquiring a plethora of tech firms from around the globe in an effort to bolster its efforts to compete on the virtual reality stage.

However, if Apple is known for one thing, it would be that innovation and simplification is the key to successful products that out-perform the competition.

All that taken into consideration, we received word this morning, courtesy of AppleInsider, that Apple was granted a patent which could, quite feasibly so, set the stage upon which “glasses-free” 3D iPhones become a reality. And that’s because, at least in part, of what Apple is defining as an “autostereoscopic” display — which means, in other words, that the screen would be able to display images and content that’s viewable in 3D — sans the need for an ostensibly cumbersome pair of goggles.


The patent essentially outlines a mechanism by which “a pixel array featuring a second array of sub pixels and lens structures” would be able to render what you’d see on screen in 3D — via the emission of light reflecting off of those sub pixels at different angles. By far the most integral component of the technology, however, would be the “beam steerer” — which, according to the patent application, would be responsible for directing and thereby reflecting light off of respective sub pixels.


In order to determine where exactly the flight should be reflected, compatible devices would utilize a combination of their accelerometer, camera, and/or other sensors, in order to display the on-screen content at different angles.

While “glasses-free 3D” technology is not an entirely new concept, attempts to commercialize products boasting such functionality have largely failed to swoon consumers thus far. A great example of success in this category, however, would be Nintendo’s iconic 3DS portable gaming system.

However, even that, despite its success, is already years-old tech.

And yet, with how Apple likes to stir up trends and out-innovate its competition, we think it’s fairly reasonable to assume that Cupertino’s new glasses-free 3D patent, if it ultimately makes its way into a product, will one day become “the next big thing.”

What do you think about a glasses-free 3D iPhone display? Let us know in the comments!

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