We’re some time away from the day that Tim Cook walks on stage in Cupertino wearing a pair of Apple Glasses, but the leaks are still coming fast and furious. Fresh off the back of a Apple Glass patent suggesting wearers could navigate by subtle audio cues, Apple has another navigation patent which is just as strange, but could certainly prove to be immersive.
As spotted by Apple Insider, the patent (“Movement within an environment”) shows how something like Apple Maps’ Look Around or Google’s Street View could be replicated on the glasses. Instead of viewing the part of the world you want to see on a phone screen, you’ll have it projected on to your lenses as if you’re there.
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“Some CGR [computer generated rendered] applications display the CGR environment from a particular position in the CGR environment," the patent explains. "In some cases, the position represents the location of a user or a virtual camera within the CGR environment. [However] In some applications, a user may desire to move within the CGR environment and/or view the CGR environment from a different position."
The patent goes on to explain that while a user could stroll down the virtual street in real time if they wish, “movement in a CGR environment need not correspond directly to the actual physical movement of the user in the real world.”
As you might expect, the patent suggests that the view will change as the wearer’s head moves – just like every other VR application worth its salt. In this case, the patent suggests that it’s not just the visuals that a turn could change: the “acoustic field” could adjust too for even more immersion.
Unlike Google Street View, where you can just follow a route, this patent suggests a more versatile approach: if you spot something in the distance, you can jump over to it immediately. To soften the blow of leaping around a map like this, the patent suggests this would be in two stages - a magnified view of the section of the map you’re interested in first, and then the option to move closer if you like.
It’s perhaps one of those things that needs to be experienced to feel the benefit, but as someone with an abysmal sense of direction, I can certainly see the appeal. Maps can appear abstract and confusing, even with the addition of GPS. Being able to jog your memory by virtually visiting nearby streets sounds like an inventive way of retracing your steps without actually needing to physically move. And that’s before you even consider the potential for exploring fantasy environments.
Of course, this is just a patent, and patents aren’t always used. And it becomes even less of a sure thing when you remember that Apple Glass hasn’t officially been confirmed and has no release date in sight. While some are optimistically predicting the first generation could arrive early next year, other more pessimistic takes suggest we’re still three years away. Either way, we’re not likely to see this interesting new take on mapping any time soon.
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