The iPhones and iPads of the future could have glasses-free 3D displays. Apple has filed a patent application for a "spatially interactive computing device," which would allow the company to produce displays that project a mix of 2D and 3D images, complete with eye-tracking capabilities for maintaining a consistent 3D effect.
According to the background section of the patent application, Apple's proposed technology is designed to make 3D displays more user-friendly, eliminating the need for glasses while also overcoming the potential inaccuracy of glasses-free solutions. These new displays would present a "combined 2D and 3D image" using various lenses and LCD panels in order to achieve the pop-out effect.
Apple's 3D display patent utilizes eye-tracking technology to "maintain the type of image being displayed" as the user moves around. This means that you may be able to play a 3D game on your tablet and not have the effect ruined when you move your device up and down. The application also mentions "multiple view images," in which different users would see different things on the screen based on their position.
The application doesn't specify what exact device this technology is made for, though the included patent images show a device that looks like an iPad. The filing states that the 3D display could come to "any kind of computing device," including smartphones, laptops and even desktops. Apple's filing states that devices with this technology may also be able to capture 3D images, meaning you may be able to snap a photo before viewing it in 3D.
In a separate application published today (May 21), Apple has patented an ultra-compact Wi-Fi hotspot that's meant to be more intuitive and pocket-friendly than many current options. The company's proposed hotspot is a small, cylindrical device with no buttons. Users can toggle the hotspot by simply twisting it, and can swap in more powerful batteries for extra juice.