Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) wants you to feel like Superman, at least in terms of your vision. The company has filed patents for a system of navigation that uses augmented reality. According to the filings (spotted by Apple Insider), it would have X-ray vision features.
Apple patents utilize the iPhone
The two patent applications are called “Registration between actual mobile device position and environmental model” and “Federated mobile device positioning.” Both of them describe a system of advanced augmented reality. They use the sensors, camera and communications components on an iPhone to provide a world view in real time with location data laid right over it.
Apple’s system starts with GPS and the strength of Wi-Fi signals. It adds data from other sensors and other details to figure out where the iPhone user is located. Then, an app downloads a 3D model of the area around the user, adding data about the images it captures to show the user points of interest that are located nearby. The problem, however, is correlating the digital images with the real world around the user, which is hard to do using only sensors.
Apple tries to improve augmented reality
In order to provide more accurate placement, Apple describes how it could overlay a virtual frame on top of a live video feed from an iPhone’s camera. Users would then be able to line up the 3D frame with the live feed by moving it around using gestures like tap and drag and pinch to zoom. This would, theoretically, make the augmented reality image more accurate than is able to be done using only sensors and hardware.
Another way iPhone users could make the 3D image more accurate is through audible commands. They could simply say “move left” to move the image to the left and easily match up the image with the augmented reality view. They would then be able to lock in the frame after the two images are lined up properly.
Potential applications for Apple’s system
In the patent filings, Apple also describes a number of ways its augmented reality system could be used. For example, when iPhone users travel to someplace new, they can use the app to easily find nearby roads and places.
They can also see information about nearby businesses and, in some cases, even “peel back” the walls and see what’s inside of the businesses, giving them a sort of X-ray vision of their surroundings. Apple said these images of the insides of businesses would be stored on servers that are offsite. Any database of this sort of information would have to be huge.