Apple patents 'desk-free' computer with intelligent, laser-powered projector and wireless charging

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2014
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday awarded Apple a patent for a completely wireless portable computer that uses a projection system, rather than a conventional LCD display, as its primary mode of visual output.

Desk-Free
Source: USPTO


Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,610,726 for "Computer systems and methods with projected display" imagines a portable computing system devoid of built-in display, keyboard and nearly all peripheral wires. Instead of the normal laptop trimmings, the box would be featureless, save for the LED or laser light projection system and speakers. The invention even calls for inductive charging to do away with unsightly power cords.

Basically, Apple's patent describes a computer housing with advanced smart projection technology. The device is not merely a projector, however, as the document clearly points out functionality would be equal to or greater than existing laptops and desktops. Further, with the integrated projection system, the device may be carried and mounted in a variety of spaces, while freeing users from fixed screen sizes.

The patent dubs the device a "desk-free computer," as its form factor is neither a laptop nor a desktop, but something else entirely. The document notes that the invention is not to be confused with so-called "smart projectors," which are limited in their image processing and color correction capabilities.

Desk-Free
From top left: front, rear, top and side views of Apple's "desk-free computer."


Unlike traditional projectors, the desk-free computer would be able to process raw image data from a DVD or other digital medium. Conventional projectors receive processed data as a specific video protocol and at a predefined resolution output, both of which are determined by a DVD player or other multimedia component. Apple's system is able to read data in the "raw space," or pixel-level output prior to rasterization or other preprocessing.

Unlike static projection setups, the desk-free computer is able to dynamically change its image settings based on sensor data, like that from an on-board camera. Other sensors include an accelerometer, ambient light sensor and depth sensor. Together, these components collect data regarding a display surface's color, texture and other features to dynamically produce an optimized image.

Image tweaks would be "lossless" in that pixel densities may be dynamically adjusted for keystoning, or the compensation of an image shape to be presented as a right square or rectangle if the projector is set at an angle. Also, the computer's user interface may be changed based on its distance from a display surface, which is some embodiments throws a 40-inch image from less than 15 inches away.

In addition to an integrated projector, the desk-free computer would also be substantially or entirely wire-free, with peripherals like a keyboard and mouse connected wirelessly. Further, power may also be transmitted via inductive charging, or through integrated batteries.

Desk-Free


The future of Apple's invention is uncertain, though the technology exists to implement many of the features described above. While the form factor may be impractical compared to modern devices like the iPad and MacBook Air, projectors are still popular with some users and parts of Apple's patent may indeed be incorporated into a consumer product.

Apple's desk-free computer patent was first filed for in 2008 and credits Aleksandar Pance, Reese T. Cutler, Aaron Leiba, David Robbins Falkenburg, Jason Hau-Ping Chen, Alex Crumlin and Ken McAlpine as its inventors.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33
    I call prior art¡

    [I][TURN SOUND OFF!][/I]

    [VIDEO]
  • Reply 2 of 33
    Wireless charging is a great invention. My desks at home and at work are cluttered with USB cables for charging devices.
  • Reply 3 of 33
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post



    I call prior art¡



    [TURN SOUND OFF!]




     

    An animated video of a 3D model is not Prior Art.

  • Reply 4 of 33
    I said 2 years ago that this method would be the AppleTV product that brings it out of the hobby stage if they could get it bright enough. It bypasses flat screen TV manufacturing, which would bring no profits to Apple, and cheaply allows almost any size screen to fit any room in one product.
  • Reply 5 of 33

    This is the difference from all other TVs out there, while going back to the future for projection TV.  I still believe that Apple (and even third parties) will offer something to project on - a screen if you will.

  • Reply 6 of 33
    mauszmausz Posts: 243member

    Read a review of such a system last week http://us.hardware.info/reviews/5058/gigabyte-brix-projector-i3-4010-review-mini-projector-pc

     

    It lacks wireless charging

  • Reply 7 of 33
    Does it come with a wall to project on?
  • Reply 8 of 33

    This strikes me as something that would be very difficult to perfect. I mean, every projector I've ever used has always been a pain in the arse. You have to wiggle, adjust, prop, and configure the box to no end and still have to "settle" with a merely acceptable picture quality.

     

    If anyone can do it, I trust Apple will, but I won't be buying the 1.0 version...

  • Reply 9 of 33
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    An animated video of a 3D model is not Prior Art.

    He's making a joke. Come on, mdriftmeyer, you've been long enough to know of both the sarcmark and know PhilBoogie's posts.

    brutus009 wrote: »
    This strikes me as something that would be very difficult to perfect. I mean, every projector I've ever used has always been a pain in the arse. You have to wiggle, adjust, prop, and configure the box to no end and still have to "settle" with a merely acceptable picture quality.

    If anyone can do it, I trust Apple will, but I won't be buying the 1.0 version...

    The same can be said about fingerprint scanning but Apple made it very fast and convenient.
  • Reply 10 of 33
    philboogie wrote: »
    I call prior art¡

    [TURN SOUND OFF!]

    Very slick video, but the article clearly states Apple filed the patent in 2008. I believe your concept is from several years later.
  • Reply 11 of 33
    Would this be a good solution for *the* AppleTV? If the projector used some kind of new-fangled technology that's better/lasts longer than current projectors, and if it provided wireless power to devices, it might be a good thing to have in the center of your living room. You'd have a 'display' the size of your wall, the power of a computer (for gaming, internet, etc.), and all of your controllers would charge wirelessly. If they charged $1000-$1500 for it, I'd make that the center of my home theater.
  • Reply 12 of 33
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,437member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

     

    An animated video of a 3D model is not Prior Art.

     


    True, but a bunch of black boxes that express ideas and features and not implementation or engineering should not be a valid patent.

    If I draw some black boxes of a flying car, a phaser, a transporter or holographic movies/TV, can I take the patents?

    But I wonder whether this purported device, which one can interpret to be a computer/projector for business use is not actually the much-rumored Apple Television in disguise.
  • Reply 13 of 33
    tzterri wrote: »
    Does it come with a wall to project on?

    Of course not. What's next? A Mac Pro with a keyboard + mouse? That's ridiculous!
  • Reply 14 of 33
    solipsismx wrote: »
    He's making a joke.

    Thanks, though this one ? I actually cannot tell if it lacks a "¡". Could go either way, as these pads need to be hooked up as well.
    Wireless charging is a great invention. My desks at home and at work are cluttered with USB cables for charging devices.
  • Reply 15 of 33
    This is the difference from all other TVs out there, while going back to the future for projection TV.  I still believe that Apple (and even third parties) will offer something to project on - a screen if you will.

    My first post was incomplete. One thing that made me think that Apple may go this route were products that need almost no distance to screen. So, you could place the projector on a table very close (inches) to the wall/screen and the optics & software perfects the image. That way, it would work in place of a flat screen with no modification to the user's room. Just sit it at the base of the screen area and it projects upward.
  • Reply 16 of 33
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,031moderator
    Pretty cool video, but that edition is a bit far into the future.
  • Reply 17 of 33
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,213moderator
    The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday awarded Apple a patent for a completely wireless portable computer that uses a projection system, rather than a conventional LCD display, as its primary mode of visual output.

    The patent dubs the device a "desk-free computer," as its form factor is neither a laptop nor a desktop, but something else entirely. The document notes that the invention is not to be confused with so-called "smart projectors," which are limited in their image processing and color correction capabilities.

    This would be the ultimate computer because it would finally get rid of displays dictating form factor. It needs power though. LG's laser projector isn't very bright and still uses 240W (it's also about $10k):


    [VIDEO]


    It would be great if laptops didn't have displays but instead, just a flat metal surface that an image was projected onto. The thin layer of metal could be folded right under to project onto a back wall. A 13" form factor laptop could have a bundled add-on plate to give it a 19" screen.

    The color correction is essential to automatically adapt to any surface color or material.

    They'd have to watch for health and safety because projecting something bright enough onto a wall in normal lighting would need a very bright source and looking directly at it could cause eye damage but as long as they expand the image enough as it leaves the device, it would be ok. This just limits the range it can have.

    If it comes with a backplate that acts as a repeater and boosts the colors it reflects, that might get round brightness problems.

    I'd say an internal laser system would be better though. It would act like CRTs but the laser wouldn't fire from behind, it would shine from below and the display would just be a reflective surface, perhaps a series of stepped mirrors:

    1000

    It has a single laser system for RGB at the base, very low power. The side view shows an angled mirror but it would really be a staircase of horizontal mirrors (4320 strips for 8K resolution) that allow the beam to be projected the right way. The laser at the base would use a mirror to point the beam onto the top horizontal mirror and zip along it creating a line. The next horizontal mirror would just be in a fixed position a tiny amount back from the top (it's lasers so it can be fractions of a mm). The base laser mirror moves a little to zip along that line and so on until the picture is made. Black would be off like a CRT.

    To get a different size, you could just get a different top and connect it to the base system but that whole design doesn't really seem like it would be that expensive to make. Dispersing the light to make wide enough viewing angles could be tricky though (maybe need glass beads with reflective backing or something).
  • Reply 18 of 33

    Combine it one of those infrared projected keyboards (http://www.amazon.com/Celluon-Magic-Laser-Projection-Keyboard/dp/B005ES6E6W) then you really have a fully mediocre, but headline grabbing, computing device.

  • Reply 19 of 33
    The thing that made Apple great was surprising the world with products that were fun, beautiful and easy to use. With the I-pod and I-phone we were suddenly propelled further in the technological landscape. But now, none of the new ideas surprise us anymore. By the time the I-Watch becomes a reality, we will be exhausted by reading article after article on what the design will entail. In fact, we're already impatient waiting for an idea which we heard about 2 years ago.

    Now with this new idea described here, we'll read about it for years before it comes into fruition.

    What happened to company discretion and secrecy.? Never again will we be blown away with something we've never seen before. No more surprises. And therefore, mediocre stock price since Apple is no longer going to be ahead of the tech curve the way they have been in the past. Now they're just like everybody else. No more surprises.
  • Reply 20 of 33
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleFan8080 View Post



    Wireless charging is a great invention. My desks at home and at work are cluttered with USB cables for charging devices.

    There is no such thing as wireless charging. Truly.

     

    The so-called "wireless charging" implementations that exist are anything but. They require a special surface device for the to-charge device to be placed on top of...this surface is plugged into power....with, ya know...a wire. You must now put your device down in this exact spot, and only this spot, and you can now not pick your device up at all without pausing the charging process....a process which is more than twice as long thanks to the fact that the damn device is not even plugged in!

     

    These "solutions" are so cumbersome and riddled with inconvenience, it is not the least bit surprising that Apple has not even touched it with a ten foot pole. Even this patent application is a continuation of the same ridiculousness: The computer won't need a power cable (hooray!?)...because it sits on top of a special mat....that does need a power cable. Stupid!

     

    What Apple needs to be working on (and most certainly is) would be solar wireless charging, for devices with glass displays. Dozens of tiny light sensors under the glass that absorb power from illumination...everything from sunlight to indoor lighting. Not as a replacement for tethered charging mind you, but as a fix for the REAL problem facing REAL users of REAL products...battery life.

     

    Imagine...your iPhone charges (today) from 0-100% in about 40 minutes. After removing it from the charger, the solar power sensors are constantly active, constantly supplementing the battery's stored charge...perhaps a two battery hybrid system, so that both can be calibrated differently....resulting in ridiculous battery life enhancements. 

     

    Now imagine that this works, and works really really well. Constantly sucking in solar power and constantly sapping it at the same time, extending your battery life...possibly indefinitely, in the right scenario. Imagine your iPhone taking 2-3 days to drain completely under heavy usage.

     

    That would be a TRUE achievement when it comes to mobile device power.....making non-wireless wireless charging look like the stupid gimmick that it is.

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