Future Mac or iPad screens could be used as a smart mirror

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in General Discussion
Apple is considering the possibility of producing devices that have a screen with adjustable reflectiveness, one that could potentially switch between displaying information to the user and acting as a mirror.




A patent application for an "Electronic Device with Adjustable Reflective Display", published on Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, describes the use of an extra layer added to a display assembly. The extra layer sits above the pixel array, used to create the image seen by the device's user.

The layer could consist of linear and reflective polarizers, a liquid crystal layer for managing the level of polarization, and a switchable polarizer that uses both liquid crystal and dichroic dye molecules. In theory, the layer would be controllable, switchable between letting the light from the pixel array through to the user at one extreme, and preventing light through while reflecting ambient light from the environment.

In essence, the panel would switch from a viewable screen to something resembling a mirror.




According to the filing, the layer could be controllable to a level that parts of the screen would show images and other content like a normal display, while other areas are reflective. The mirrored areas could change status from on to off, or shifted to other parts of the screen, if locations where content needs to be visible are altered.

Some elements of the filing also refer to how the user would interact with such a display, including the use of head-tracking, gaze-tracking, facial recognition, and hand gestures, vis the use of a built-in camera and other sensors. For example, by tracking the user's gaze, it could detect if the user is looking at a notification icon for a designated period of time, which could then trigger other content to appear on-screen.

A simple flowchart suggests the kind of actions that could occur based on a detected input, such as displaying news, notifications, or more icons for further interactions.

The controllable reflectiveness has relatively few applications in Apple's existing product line, but could be useful for aesthetic reasons. For example, an iPhone display could be made to be mirror-like when not in use, rather than appearing as a black screen.



Outside of Apple's current ecosystem, it could be used to produce a smart mirror system, a product category that has yet to really take off, despite the various concepts created by firms over the years, as well as home-made versions. The technology could potentially provide a much clearer image to end users if used in this way, as current systems require the light to pass through static reflective materials, which changes the appearance of content.

This could also be useful for commercial purposes, including kiosks and product displays that provide information to customers.

Apple regularly applies for patents across many different subject areas on a weekly basis, sometimes including new concepts, but with few actually making it to market. The existence of a patent or application is not a guarantee that it will be used in a consumer device in the future.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    “Mirror, mirror, in my hand, who’s the fairest in the land. Also, quick, take a selfie! I’m looking very fair right now.”

    I’m intrigued by the idea of a “smart mirror” mounted over the bathroom sink, for example. But I’m not sure I’d really use it that often. To me, it seems like something that sounds great in theory but isn’t really in practice. 
    edited June 14 techprod1gyRoyfbwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 21
    frantisekfrantisek Posts: 347member
    They should consider that many people do not like to themselves in mirror ;-) And I guess that picture is closer to reality then title. screen behind polarizing semitransparent mirror. Not sure they will be produce cheap huge screens soon.
  • Reply 3 of 21
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,730member
    “Mirror, mirror, in my hand, who’s the fairest in the land. Also, quick, take a selfie! I’m looking very fair right now.”

    I’m intrigued by the idea of a “smart mirror” mounted over the bathroom sink, for example. But I’m not sure I’d really use it that often. To me, it seems like something that sounds great in theory but isn’t really in practice. 
    I bet some creative folks would easily come up with some commercial/architectural applications, especially if it can be made to look more like mirrored glass with a darker tint. Hotels, museums, retail etc.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 21
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    I like the idea of a huge, autostereoscopic picture window screen that can show me vantage points from all around the world. A penthouse in NYC. A blizzard in the Rockies. An alpine valley in Switzerland. Dunes in the Sahara. I’ll probably have to wait another 30 years before such a thing is affordable.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 21
    Will it run whatever Google/Android OS that is in the stock photo?
  • Reply 6 of 21
    RalphabitsRalphabits Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    Apple Car rear-view mirror?
    johnny mozzarellajohnny mozzarelladewmewatto_cobradunks
  • Reply 7 of 21
    Apple Car rear-view mirror?
    Yes. Cadillac already has a rear view mirror with a display built in but is still very reflective when displaying rear view video. 

    BMW has also prototyped a panoramic rearview “mirror” that stitched together video from multiple cameras to create a rear view with no blind spots.  Replacing side-view mirrors with cameras could significantly reduce drag however current regulations require them. 
    Ralphabitswatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 21
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Apple Car rear-view mirror?
    Entire windshield that projects your GPS directions translucently onto the road in front of you, as well as shows your dashboard information right in your line of sight so you don’t have to look down.
    Ralphabitswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 21
    The other possibility is mirrored sunglasses.
    You can choose the mirror or to display an image of your eyes. Perfect for boring meetings or lectures. 
    entropyswatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 21
    retrogustoretrogusto Posts: 666member
    I like the idea of a huge, autostereoscopic picture window screen that can show me vantage points from all around the world. A penthouse in NYC. A blizzard in the Rockies. An alpine valley in Switzerland. Dunes in the Sahara. I’ll probably have to wait another 30 years before such a thing is affordable.
    I have that now—it’s my Apple TV in screensaver mode. Well, almost. 
    edited June 14 watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 21
    retrogustoretrogusto Posts: 666member
    A few years ago I was sitting next to a model on a long flight, and she had a mirrored screensaver on her iPhone, which enabled her to casually check up on her appearance by looking at her phone. I can imagine a lot of people would like this. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 21
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,248member
    I’m intrigued by the idea of a “smart mirror” mounted over the bathroom sink, for example. But I’m not sure I’d really use it that often. To me, it seems like something that sounds great in theory but isn’t really in practice. 
    It would be a vanity project.
    tallest skilwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 21
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,248member

    The other possibility is mirrored sunglasses.
    You can choose the mirror or to display an image of your eyes. Perfect for boring meetings or lectures. 
    Yes, great idea. You could also make your eyes look any colour or pattern you like on the day. Bright orange cat’s eyes for example.  Quite the thing for the board room.

    or green lizard eyes for you next conspiracy theory meeting. They’ll be convinced you are part of the shadow government really run by aliens.
    edited June 14 johnny mozzarellawatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 21
    ivanhivanh Posts: 208member
    It only works when the display is as large as an unfold newspaper.  Even so, the focal point behind the display will never be the same as looking at a mirror.  You just feel like being watched at all time. In deed, the camera(s) Making such mirrored image are inviting hackers.  If it works, SAMSUNG didn’t need to drop the cam from their TVs.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 21
    Will it run whatever Google/Android OS that is in the stock photo?

    -- That's the "Embrace Smart Mirror", not a stock photo, a real photo.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 21
    Already a real product: https://www.embracesmartmirror.com/

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 21
    Atomic77Atomic77 Posts: 61member
    This sounds really awesome. Could you imagine all the possibilities this would bring?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 21




    I like what I see...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 21
    macguimacgui Posts: 890member

    Future Mac or iPad screens could be used as a smart mirror

    Not being a visionary, I don't, at the moment, see any compelling use for such a feature.

    Future smart mirrors could be used as a Mac or iPad screen  


    That would have made a better headline, and be something I might actually use.
    edited June 15 watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 21
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    I like what I see...
    On the mirror or in it? Because what’s on it is Android.  :p
    watto_cobra
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