Apple has been granted a patent (number 10,819,962) for a “method of and system for projecting digital information on a real object in a real environment.” It involves a head-mounted projector hat looks pretty awkward to me.
In all fairness to Apple, it appears that the projector could also be hand held or attached to a stand.
Augmented reality (AR) systems could enhance a real environment by directly visually augmenting the real environment by computer-generated digital information. For example, such digital information is virtual information for augmenting visual impressions of the real environment.
Apple says that typical applications are known as, for example, so-called projector-based AR, projective AR or spatial AR. The digital information can be any type of data you can see, such as objects, texts, drawings, videos, or a combination of these. Apple’s idea is to project a computer-generated digital information onto a surface of a real object of the real environment or a part of the real environment using a projector.
Here’s the summary of the patent: “A method of projecting digital information on a real object in a real environment includes the steps of projecting digital information on a real object or part of a real object with a visible light projector, capturing at least one image of the real object with the projected digital information using a camera, providing a depth sensor registered with the camera, the depth sensor capturing depth data of the real object or part of the real object, and calculating a spatial transformation between the visible light projector and the real object based on the at least one image and the depth data. The invention is also concerned with a corresponding system.”