IDash-one screen to rule them all

in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
1 The next dent in the universe:
- "life's dashboard",the "iDash"
The next dent in the universe will be stereo-optical glasses and they will not be the Google Glass version. What follows is a fantasy, based on existing technologies rearranged into something new and worthy of Apple's next big release.
2 Google Glass vs. immersion
Google deprecate the digital and elevate the view of the real world by placing the digital info in one corner of the field of view of one eye. This is wrong for general computer use, although I would concede it is the correct approach for jumping out of airplanes, skateboarding, ski jumping etc.
Apple could immerse us in a virtual world and, at the same time, balance this with environmental awareness.
3 The best way to implement digital overlay of the environment
One problem with Google's approach is that overlaying digital on top of the real world limits contrast and makes true black and compelling color saturation impossible. Furthermore, this is a silly approach as it can be much better accomplished by using twin cameras mounted on the glasses and then superimposing the digital info on top of the camera viewfinder images.
4 Acceptable style
They will look like narrow reading glasses and not be any bulkier. Johnny Ive will no doubt make them unique and attractive. This can be accomplished, in part, by having the glasses contain only the displays, cameras, and sensors while the CPU, Flash memory, GPU, SIM card, and various radios talk to the glasses from a belt with batteries and a trackpad for a buckle.
5 Lens innovation for display
This will be accomplished with Nikon's development of "phase fresnel" lenses. This an etched or possibly printed "shark tooth" topology on the nano scale. this replaces relatively thick round glass with rectangular flat glass or plastic which is no thicker than the OLED screen. The lens is in direct contact with the screen and the OLED is the only light source.—0925_cfi60_2_01.htm
6 Lens innovation for the camera
Likewise the camera lenses can be "phase fresnel" thus rectangular and flat. This revolutionizes cameras (rectangular flat lenses!!) as well.
7 Lens attached to sensor but separate viewfinder attached to photographer
On this platform external full frame high-end cameras become wireless "black boxes", the glasses the ultimate viewfinder, not requiring a face plant to shoot a macro of an ant farm or climbing a tree to shoot over a crowd. You can put the camera on the end of a pole. The camera lens must be aligned in the same box as the sensor but the viewfinder should absolutely not be fixed to that box. The viewfinder should be attached to the photographer.
8 The most convenient steady-cam is your head
Handling camera shake when moving the camera requires extreme skill without a steady-cam. If twin cameras are integrated into the glasses this problem is substantially eliminated. If this were not the case then your normal vision would look like a shaky video every time you move your body.
9 Insurance/police/rear view camera
In a vehicle an external "black box" camera has dual use. It is attached to the roof by magnets or high-power suction, removable to avoid theft. It is pointed up at a 360 degree mirror. This 360 panorama image is recorded as a loop as evidence for insurance and police use in the event of an incident. The rear 180 degree portion of this image is displayed in the glasses functioning as a panoramic live rear-view, giving an undistorted, software corrected image, free of any "blind spot", a term that should be eliminated from our vocabulary.
10 The in-your-face dashboard
These are worn as current narrow reading glasses and have the same appearance. There are three modes. First, for immersive view, centered on the eyes. Second, for hybrid view, just slide them down to look over the top of the frame, positioned at the same level as the top of the car dashboard. You look over the frame as through the car windshield. You would be forced to concede that if this is unworkable, then driving your car is unworkable. Third the frames can be pushed up high and one can look under them at a close work surface below the glasses. The fresnel lenses are in focus with the eyes focused at infinity thus eliminating the eye fatigue of refocusing when glancing up and down, looking over the top of the screens and down again.
11 Constrained use while driving
In using the car dashboard analogy, I am not suggesting it be used while driving, although it could be if use while driving could somehow be limited to supplying dashboard info such as rear view, speed, navigation, oil pressure etc. Real dashboards could be eliminated. When in range of the car Bluetooth, software would disable all but these functions. Jailbreak and bypass this constraint, watch porn and crash. Darwin, as ever, at work pruning the imprudent. Just don't crash into me.
12 Prescriptive and add-on lenses
Individual prescriptions are accommodated in the "phase fresnel" overlay of the OLED screens. The frames are magnetic allowing simple and optional attachment of prescription and/or dark lenses above and/or below the narrow screen area in the center of the field of view. These small, flat phase fresnel supplementary lenses could be stored in a small container to handle all conditions. The phase fresnel printing allows very precise, individual correction of vision currently impossible in conventionally ground lenses. Other magnetic "clip-ons" could include black, opaque top and bottom hoods for immersive theatrical viewing while blocking all exterior light.
13 Cursor navigation and pan and tilt screen-space
Navigation is through control of the cursor position by infrared laser eye-tracking. Look to point. Long blink-to-click, double long blink to right-click. Field of view is expanded by moving one's head very slightly side to side or up and down. This is OS wide navigation, not just gaming (but awesome gaming/simulation none-the-less).
14 Belt buckle trackpad/battery & Intel CPU
The CPU is on a power belt that contains batteries, like an ammunition bandolier, with a trackpad that doubles as a belt buckle and communicates with the glasses wirelessly. This would allow i5 or i7 driven OS X and existing software and still run all day under heavy use given the power reduction enabled by the micro OLED screens plus expandable separate battery real estate. Different aftermarket belts could offer heavier belts with days of battery life but Apple would use thin flexible lithium so the belt is normally worn, inside regular trouser belt loops. Style is personalized using decorative capacitive removable adhesive overlays on the belt buckle/trackpad.
15 OS X wins
Ironically, OS X again ascends to dominance over iOS of necessity. Obviously touch control of 2 stereo displays, each about 1 1/2" diagonal and 1/2" in front of each eye, is an impossibility.
16 iOS and OS X come together at the trackpad switch (called "HoverTouch")
Widgets are lame compared to iOS apps. The apparent dilemma of crossing the gulf between the touch based UI and cursor based "hoverable" UI can be bridged with existing hardware. When touching the trackpad, represent the contact of up to 5 fingers as translucent white dots. These white dots show the location of your fingers but are not yet active input. When you want active input you press down on the mechanical switch beneath the trackpad while you tap or gesture.
17 Redundancy of 7 devices to 1
Intel and ARM together at last
Apple managed the seamless management of the utilization of Intel GPU and an external, more powerful and power hungry GPU. The same approach that pulled that off can be executed in engaging and disengaging the ARM CPU in a system orchestrated by OS X. When switching to the equivalent of the Widget space in OS X, the result would be that the iOS apps that replace Widgets could be run natively on ARM while the Intel chip powers down. The low cost of adding the ARM chip would be desirable, given the potential to obsolete and replace 7 other redundant platforms.
This behavior of switching CPUs would happen simultaneously with the trackpad changing behavior. When OS X is running the show, the trackpad behaves as on a laptop. When ARM takes over we introduce the "hover touch" modality whereby 5 cursors can be shown, but the action is not invoked until the trackpad is pushed down activating the mechanical switch. APIs would need to recognize this hybrid device separately from a pure iOS device allowing this switch to "HoverTouch".
This platform is capable of obsoleting: watch, phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, home theater and game console all in one device, providing optimum hands-free mobility, not to mention increasing the quality of the experience of those replaced devices. This saves the consumer a great deal of money through the elimination of the redundancy of multiple devices.
18 3D
I'm imagining twin retina micro displays providing image quality the equal of the old Kodak "stereo-realist" cameras from the 1930's. This camera produced twin full frame 35mm slides mounted side by side in a frame then viewed with a binocular-like black box with back-light, slot for the slide and twin magnifiers that provided about a 45 degree field of view. These 3D images were stunning. Digital can reach parity with that quality at 4K pixels horizontal, but 15" MacBook Pro retina screen resolution will do for now. All other forms of screen are absorbed by this as into a black hole.
19 3D User interface
Now we can move past 2 dimensional to 3 dimensional input. Inexpensive infrared array sensors can now detect 10 finger positions in 3 dimensions to sub-millimeter accuracy. Hold down a button to execute a touch gesture. This infrared array can show your "virtual hands" rendered in stereo depth space. Just add aftermarket haptic gloves for "feeling objects" which could include a haptic virtual keyboard. Such a 10 finger 3D input device could be mounted together or in place of the belt buckle/trackpad.
20 More social than the theater screen
Glasses can replace the home theater large "TV" screen too. If you don't believe this is possible, envision this. Several friends are in the living room sitting at a round table. Each are wearing these stereo glasses all watching a simultaneous video stream from the router. Each person wears their stereo glasses such that they have a view over the top of the glasses at the other faces at the table. The glasses' screens don't wash out from the lighting in the room so you don't need a dark room. Compare this to the existing scene where the room must be darkened to some extent and everyone is looking in the same direction, not at each other, at least not directly. Glasses are more social, not less.
21 More social audio
A similar breakthrough is possible in the audio domain. Noise canceling earbuds or headphones use built in microphones. These microphones are currently only used to cancel ambient sound. They can, instead, alternately and optionally, be used to capture and pass the ambient sound and then mix stereo ambience with device sound. These gain levels are set individually. By this means a room full of people can remain in conversation while each listens to their music of choice with no need to remove the earbuds or annoy each other with their possibly dubious taste in music. This alone would utterly transform the experience. When such an arrangement becomes commonplace, it would remove the assumption that a person wearing earbuds is necessarily out of touch and anti-social.
22 More social Facetime
When using the glasses for FaceTime interaction, the inset picture that normally uses the phone front camera to show your own face would instead be a view selectable from the camera worn by any/each of those participating in the conference. Of course this feature is default disabled and enabling it selective by each participant. Alternatively, a separate, wireless, black-box camera can be positioned looking back at you.
23 WiFi wireless microphones on actors
Current wireless microphones are analog, tend to distort and have dedicated radio spectrum assigned to them alone. Almost all video suffers from microphones placed too far from the source of the sound. Low latency WiFi remote microphones worn on everyone in the video would transform video quality. Much needed WiFi spectrum could be reallocated from current analog radio microphones.
24 Surround sound earbuds
Sound capture on this platform is binaural because the microphones are positioned inside the shape of the ear, In this way simulating "binaural" sound capture which was done many decades ago using a soft dummy head with microphones positioned inside realistic ears. Such a positioning of the microphones provides the subtle delays which cause the psychoacoustic effects which offer "3D" sound capture and reproduction. This approximates 5.1 or 7.1 surround with only 2 channels. This is obviously possible because even 5 or 7 speaker arrays are, after all, rendered in depth with only 2 ears.
25 Screen power draw an order of magnitude lower
Power will be reduced as it was reduced in the audio domain, by moving the driver closer to the eardrum. Moving the screen closer to the eye will reduce power consumption by an order of magnitude likewise. Fundamental physics, especially because this is done without the losses of semi-reflective mirrors and/or fiber optics, but rather converging light rays enabled by Nikon's nano "phase fresnel" lenses.
26 NFC Bluetooth IV bracelet with password gestures and file transfers.
NFC is very short range. The handiest thing to place on the reader is your hand. Why not then, have a bracelet do the job and send two way data to the CPU box via Bluetooth IV. Add accelerometers and you have a bonus of gesture based passwords not to mention exercise graphs with route traveled, heartbeat, blood pressure etc. File transfers can be done with a handshake.
27 Shopping
Equip brick and mortar stores with accurate indoor radio navigation. Inventory is on a detailed map. You make a list of items and the map highlights the items providing the shortest route to use in picking them all up.
Or before the visit you list the items at home browsing the "aisle cam" 360 degree view of the merchandise. Then you order for next day delivery by collaboration between Walmart and FedEx or UPS. The delivery truck uses far less fuel than the several dozen separate cars that would be doing pick-ups.
28 video subconscious journal
Since you are continuously equipped with a stereo-optical steady-cam and binaural recording studio, this data should constantly stream to flash memory and then over-write a loop of video of adjustable duration. This provides a video journal with continuous time and place metadata. This running record provides the opportunity to review, edit, file, share, save all effortlessly, with no conscious effort of needing to document an unpredictable moment. You wait until after the significant moment drawing from the default continuous video loop. This is not just for Alzheimer's patients. We could all make good use of this.
Needless to say, this video loop would have to be fire walled to the device so that only deliberate edits are shared off the device.
29 The whole display industry needs to think small
Existing affordable micro displays are almost all 720P or less. I refuse to believe that a properly motivated display industry cannot come up with a micro display equalling the gorgeous 15" MacBook Pro retina display, stereo-optical,with wide angle of view. Certainly this is possible with CPU lithography pushing 22 nanometer elements. At least some of that technology should translate over to manufacture of microscopic OLED pixels.
30 Vanquishing 3D's final frontier
The only "3D" perception yet to be enabled is the ability to deliberately refocus with your eyes on objects at various distances. This added realism could be accomplished with 2 "lytro" "light field" cameras. Then the same infrared eye-tracking lasers that are used to read eye position and steer the cursor can, in addition, change the focus on the objects at different distance in the viewfinder. Real time refocus-able video controlled with your own eyes directly.
31 Style essential in a wearable
Since I mentioned both iOS and OS X, it is no secret who I believe is best qualified to execute this vision, both aestheticly and technically.
32 Cannibalization supreme
Apple have demonstrated the courage to cannibalize existing products. And boy will this cannibalize watches, iPods, phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, game consoles and home theaters.
33 Polarized theater glasses
This is all 3D optical and, after all, with existing single-screen 3D you wear vertically and horizontally polarized glasses anyway. Why not then, put the screens right in the glasses?
34 Seven devices in one; cost reduction
The cost for the individual will be slashed as 7 devices are reduced to one. Even if every member of the family have such a device, the cost will be less than the 7 separate devices and possibly several of each. Thus overall costs allow for high quality components and design in keeping with Apple's high standards. You could coin a horrible new word, "unredundification", which the iPhone accomplished, but "iDash" does it on steroids.
35 The dream keynote
Tim would go on stage and copy Steve's intro of the iPhone.
first slide - wrist watch - narration of what it does
second slide - smart phone - narration of what it does
third slide - tablet - narration.
fourth slide - laptop - narration.
fifth slide - desktop - narration.
sixth slide - game console to big screen - narration.
seventh slide - big screen home theater - narration.
eighth slide - quick review of above seven slides - calling out each in narration.
ninth slide - "Are you getting it?"
tenth slide - "iDash" glasses and CPU/battery belt
eleventh - A video of all seven functions showing seamless integration of device audio and video with real world audio and video. All-day, hands-free.
36 The fallacy of devices for the "disabled"
Much of the work in the field of "head mounted displays" has been prompted by the desire to assist the "disabled".
It should be pointed out that all of the assistive functionality accessible on the Mac can equally assist the able individual to better multitask.
Thus the audience is everyone not just the able versus the disabled.
Thus the product scales up to cheaper per unit cost.
Thus the product is ultimately much cheaper for the "disabled".
37 Applications in the iCar
If Apple did a car I think it might be like the "Lit Motors" fully enclosed, highly aerodynamic, low-mass, gyroscopic, motorcycle now in development. See it at this YouTube link.
But I would change this vehicle in several ways. I would steer by 2 wrist operated joysticks located at the end of well padded arm rests. Pull on the stick in the direction of turn and optionally push on the stick opposite. Thus steering can be one handed.
It would be 2 place with copilot seated aft and elevated to see over the pilot when taking over the duplicate rear controls. Except for the joysticks, brakes and accelerator, dual control consists only of logging onto the car Bluetooth with a second "iDash" device.
Freight or additional passengers would be carried in a gyroscopic 2 wheel trailer coupled by rubber boot to the towing bike, increasing only mass, not aerodynamic drag.
The whole drive train would be eliminated by making the wheels themselves the motors. One or both of the wheels can be driven. Range is extended via turbo diesel generator in a trailer unit.
Home maintenance is greatly facilitated because with drivetrain and transmission gone, re-engine is remove and replace a wheel, or unbolt the base and wires to a generator and swap it out.
Body panels and chassis of 30 year kevlar, no corrosion with 3 times the strength to weight ratio of steel.
Such an automotive platform could then succeed on the strength of VW's reputation for durability and ease of home maintenance, but executed with extreme sophistication and long term economy.
VW have already built a similar vehicle but less sophisticated and it achieved 235 mpg (1 liter per 100 kilometers) thus it was called the "1 liter car".
38 Passion as motivation
Steve conceived products he passionately wanted himself and had certainty others would too. I'm in my 60's and passionately want to wear this device before I'm gone. I'd like to "wear" that car too.


  • Reply 1 of 1
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,509member
    I caught your post in the Microsoft glasses thread just now, and then this. Very interesting. I had to skim through it this time around, much to ponder later.

    You are right about the total hemispheric insult that the monocular Google approach will result in. Apple's patents so far show they are interested in stereo, thankfully. I'm looking forward to them solving this problem. The Sony HMD is worse than a solution, the design being a futuristic parody of itself.

    Full-time portable stereo video will be a very big deal, the biggest in media and noetic history, as far as I'm concerned.

    Thanks for the Nikon Fresnel tip. I'll be looking that up (your link here doesn't work.)

    The Realist stereo camera was in the 50s, by the way, and not Kodak's. Theirs came a little later.

    Where are you? Stereo clubs all over the place. I'm going to a meeting tonight.

    More later! Thanks for the post.
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