Apple has patented a method of overlaying details onto real-world environments, similar to what Google was trying to achieve with Glass.
The user would see details of points of interest, like the names of buildings on Fifth Avenue or the different parts of a car. In the patent, the user clicks the point to see more information, which could include details on the store or a video of what the car part does.
Apple shows the real-world overlay on the iPhone and iPad for the majority of the patent, filed to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in 2013, but at the end shows how it could be added to augmented reality glasses. The patent, according to Apple Insider, stems from Metaio, an AR startup that Apple purchased in 2013.
It is interesting that the patent has become public now, as Apple readies ARkit for iOS 11. It already has IKEA and a few other big names working on AR apps for the iPhone and iPad, and rumors are abound about the company working on AR glasses.
Apple’s executives, far from hiding their interest, have regularly said AR is an area where they see huge potential. Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company is working on a “big idea like the smartphone” in an interview with The Independent, which is as strong a hint as any that a hardware product is on the way.
AR has been heralded as the future of mobile by some, but it is still considered a long way off. The computation required to provide real-time overlay would be massive, which is why Apple may be looking to integrate it on the iPhone and iPad before launching the AR glasses.