Apple has been granted a patent (number US 11615595 B2) for “systems, methods, and graphical user interfaces for sharing augmented reality environments.” It involves the rumored “RealityPro,” an augmented reality/virtual reality headset.
About the patent
The patent relates generally to computer systems for augmented reality (AR), including but not limited to electronic devices that display virtual objects in a shared augmented reality environment. Development of computer systems for augmented reality has increased significantly in recent years.
However, in the patent data, Apple says that methods and interfaces for interacting with environments that include at least some virtual elements (e.g., augmented reality environments, mixed reality environments, and virtual reality environments) are still “cumbersome and inefficient.”
For example, systems that require users to start a new virtual/augmented reality environment to add other users when the environment begins, systems that require users to identify and create a shared anchor point from a particular object in the physical world, and systems that don’t allow multiple users to share and view virtual objects on a plurality of devices, “create a significant burden on a user and detract from the experience with the virtual/augmented reality environment,” says the tech giant. In addition, these methods take longer than necessary, thereby wasting energy. This latter consideration is particularly important in battery-operated devices.
Apple says there’s a need for computer systems with faster, more efficient methods and interfaces for sharing virtual/augmented reality environments. Such methods and interfaces optionally complement or replace conventional methods for sharing virtual/augmented reality environments.
Apple says that such methods and interfaces reduce the number, extent, and/or nature of the inputs from a user and produce a more efficient human-machine interface. For battery-operated devices, such methods and interfaces conserve power and increase the time between battery charges.
Summary of the patent
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “A first electronic device with one or more processors, memory, one or more cameras, and a display generation component captures, with the one or more cameras, an image of a second electronic device that includes position information displayed via a display generation component of the second electronic device.
“The position information indicates a location of the second electronic device within an augmented reality environment that includes a physical environment in which the first electronic device and the second electronic device are located. The first electronic device, after capturing the image of the second electronic device that includes the position information, displays, via the display generation component of the first electronic device, one or more virtual objects within the augmented reality (AR) environment using the position information captured from the second electronic device.”
About the RealityPro
When it comes to the RealityPro, the rumors are abundant. Such a device will arrive this year. Or 2025, Or 2026. It will be a head-mounted display. Or may have a design like “normal” glasses. Or it may be eventually be available in both. The Reality Pro may or may not have to be tethered to an iPhone to work.
Other rumors say that it could have a custom-build Apple chip and a dedicated operating system dubbed “rOS” for “reality operating system.” Or perhaps “xrOS” for extended reality operating system.