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Apple patent involves Mac keyboards that could use augmented reality

Apple has been granted a patent (number 10,237,509) that involves Mac keyboards that could utilize augmented displays in conjunction with a head-mounted display (the rumored “Apple Glasses” that are expected to debut next year).

In the patent filing, Apple says that computers with displays can present simulated environments to users. Head-mounted displays are available that enhance the immersive nature of simulated environments. A user with a head-mounted display may be presented with virtual reality worlds. A user may manipulate virtual objects in the virtual worlds by supplying input through data gloves or other input devices. 

However, Apple adds that, although a wide variety of virtual input devices can be constructed for a user in a simulated environment, tasks such as supplying text input can be cumbersome in simulated environments. For example, a user in a simulated environment may not be provided with physical feedback of the type that naturally arises when interacting with a physical keyboard. Apple apparently thinks that a combination of a keyboard, AR, and a head-mounted display is the answer.

Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “A system may be provided in which input is gathered from a user with input-output devices. The input-output devices may include physical keyboards, touch screen displays, data gloves, and other input-output devices. Control circuitry in the system may use a head-mounted display, a display on a keyboard, and a display in a tablet computer or other electronic device to display images. 

“Virtual reality content may be presented to a user with the head-mounted display. The virtual reality content may include virtual documents with virtual text, virtual keyboards with virtual keys, and other virtual objects. A virtual keyboard may be overlaid on top of a physical keyboard or on top of a keyboard display or touch screen display in a tablet computer or other electronic device. Virtual key labels may be updated in response to user key press input and other input.”

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.