A couple years ago, pico projectors seemed all the rage, or at least the hype behind them made them out to be. Super-miniuatrized versions of their big brothers manning conference and living rooms, they attempted to overcome the limitations of pocket-sized devices when it comes to sharing content with others and only having a tiny screen with which to do so. Just find a convenient wall, point your phone at it, and you’ve got an instant TV-sized display.
Today, you’ll find the technology in some digital cameras, but it’s never really taken off when it comes to smartphones. If there’s one company with the muscle to take an underused feature and push it mainstream, it has to be Apple, and now it looks like the Cupertino may be interested in getting a pico projector into an iPhone, at least according to one of the company’s patent filings.
Apple sees the tech as more for business collaboration than sharing movies with your buddies, using a combination of a pico projector and a camera to track hand movements as if you were using a multi-touch display, letting you interact with charts and slides as you brainstorm with colleagues or deliver a presentation.
With multiple such devices, you could chain their displays together, effectively creating a much larger projected workspace. Considering how brightness requirements grow exponentially as you increase screen size, and how ubiquitous Apple gear is, this sounds like a great way to overcome some of the limitations inherent to pico projectors.
Of course, there’s no sign Apple is actually attempting to bring this technology to market, but it’s one of many such features which the company has applied for patents on that it will likely be considering when coming up with the spec list for its future iPad and iPhone hardware.