Apple’s much-rumoured Apple Glasses are set to come with an external trackpad, which will allow the smart glasses to be controlled with taps and swipes, if the latest Apple patent bears fruit.
A patent recently published by the USPTO (spotted by AppleInsider), suggests the so-called Apple Glasses will use touch controls rather than the motion and joystick controls found in other AR and VR devices.
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Filed under the name of ‘Remote Touch Detection Enabled by Peripheral Device’ back in September 2018, the patent shows a separate trackpad for what could be a pair of augmented reality smart glasses.
The glasses, or indeed the headset the trackpad would appear to be for, aren’t pictured in the patent. But AR-like images are positioned squarely in front of the trackpad user’s vision, which suggests the peripheral is for some form of a head-mounted display.
The trackpad in the patent looks a lot like the Magic Trackpad used to control MacBooks and iMac machines. And the patent also indicates the trackpad would be used much like those on MacBooks, able to translate various swiping gestures into the means to manipulate AR objects the Apple Glasses wearer is seeing.
The VR or AR headset being used with the trackpad would not only receive inputs, but also detect the trackpad's location in the environment to figure out which objects the user is trying to interact with. If the trackpad is hidden by another object or is the wrong orientation, the headset would then warn the user and instruct them to reposition it.
It's important to remember that patents don't always become products though. If Apple decides to introduce this as an actual accompaniment to the Apple Glasses, or perhaps its new LiDAR-equipped iPad Pro, it'll be several years from starting product development to seeing the trackpad in stores. That said, rumors have pointed to the Glasses launching in 2023 though, so perhaps Apple will have the chance to work on an accessory or two in the meantime.