back to article Apple pictures iOS on your wall

Apple has filed a patent application for an entirely new type of user interface that combines pico projectors, inter-device communications, and gesture recognition. The filing, "Projected display shared workspaces", envisions users interacting with displays projected by pico projector–equipped devices such as iPhones and iPads …


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  1. LeftAlready

    Oh Please

    Devices projecting images and interacting with users have been around for ever. I remember a Doctor Who cartoon in the '70s where a 'dalek' computer intercepted movies from the local theatre and played them on your wall. And as for transferring images between devices with gestures, see Minority Report or Avatar for details.

    Apple's going to be granted this patent and some poor company will be sued out of existence when they release something truly innovative.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Re: LeftAlready

      There is a world of difference between the things shown in films like Avatar which are just smoke and mirrors/slight of hand and developing the technology to make it actually happen.

      The details shown in the patent go a long way to make the ideas show on TV/Flim reality.

      Taking inspiration from Science fiction stories is nothing new.

      As a writer I often dream up things which in this day and age is clearly impossible to design let alone build and make work.

      Who knows that in 10 or 15 years it might be possible to actually make the device I've visualised.

      Man dreamed for milennia that one day they would fly. Then they did.

      Man dreamed for centuries that one day man would walk on the Moon. Then one day they did.

      That is progress, human progress.

      Apple have put something down on paper and filed a patent application. Someone else will come along soon and take the concepts shown in the application and improve on them. This has been going on since the Stone Age.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        The difference in meaning is not slight!

      2. bobbles31

        World of difference

        There is a world of difference.

        Unfortunately apple will patent this and then sue anyone that does anything even remotely similar. Cutting innovation off at the pass.

      3. Anonymous Coward

        Well, then how is this different from synergy?

        Excuse me for being thick this morning, so how is this different from running Synergy on the devices and using it for common control?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      ... Apple never release anything they patent, right? By your logic, no one should be granted any robotics patents because Terry Nation had already thought of the Daleks.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    all i want for christmas...

    is a week's worth of battery life :(

  3. Tom 35

    Given a phone with a working projector

    and a battery life of more then 5 minutes.

    Just about anyone could come up with the rest, and more I'm sure.

    Create a projector that will fit in a phone and run for a useful amount of time on the battery and they can have a patent.

    For the crap they are trying? Maybe they should try for a job writing a script for a sci-fi TV show.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Earl Jones Of Potatoes

      daft comments

      I'm all for it if daft comment like yours get banned as well.

  5. slooth

    More 'innovation'


    I agree. Companies like SmartBoard who have had intercative whiteboards allowing you to move items displayed via a projector will soon have 'stolen' the Jobsian 'innovative' processes. Also, they must watch out because their whiteboards also will then have the look (ie rounded corners) and feel (ooohhh touchy touchy) of Apple devices foisted on them.

    Apple should not be granted another patent!

    1. Armando 123

      Ah, but ...

      There is one difference. Unlike SmartBoard, Apple's products will likely work. We had SmartBoards at one place I contracted to recently and I think we had meetings where we spent more time trying to get them to work than actually having the meeting. I don't know if we had a Monday Morning board or what ...

  6. Anonymous Coward

    I think it's called SmartBoards.

    Projected touch-sensitive (using either special surfaces or hand or shadow-tracking cameras) displays have been around for ages. Granted, they were projected by regular projectors - but those projectors could be attached to tablet PCs. As to having multiple projectors combining images on the same wall, this too was possible since dual-head graphics cards, and in fact used extensively in certain conference rooms.

    Didn't read the whole patent, but it seems to me, that granting it will be yet another coffin in the software patents coffin.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      "Didn't read the whole patent..."

      Icon says it all.

    2. amanfromearth


      "Didn't read the whole patent, but it seems to me, that granting it will be yet another coffin in the software patents coffin."

      Nail, my boy !

  7. Dawid

    Seen this somewhere before?

    Does James Cameron know that they're trying to patent part of the Avatar script? And how is this different than a Kinect device that can support more than two screens. Someone needs to stop this evil clown army.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Save me

    Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope.

    1. ideapete

      OWK is off for the weekend

      He got nabbed loading laptops in his shuttle outside of Curry's and will not get his freedom or light-saber back till Monday

  9. Anonymous Coward

    done before

    There have already been mobile devices

    Such as phones and mp4 players that have built

    in projectors.

    What, Apple noted that none had patented the obvious?

    Their patent is too wide for the display element...oh

    it could use anything we currently know about

    and ant future alien tech(!)

    Why not have it capable of transmitting over the LAN to

    a compatible device (networked projector or software client

    on the display PC) that would save battery I reckon

    And unlike those patent whores at Apple I believe

    that sharing ideas leads to innovation and better humanity

    The internet wouldn't be here if everyone had patented

    their small bits of it!

    (though I do ask for recognition by anyone using my ideas ;) )

  10. Peter 48

    been done already

    so basically they are taking a mobile phone idea from 2009

    and combining it with a kinect setup. Wow, just so revolutionary! what would we do without apple's innovations.

    infact a quick google search shows microsoft already implementing a combined camera & projector that recognizes gestures and a research paper was published in 2009 showing this too:

  11. David Murphy
    Black Helicopters

    phones with pico-projectors

    I remember reading about pico-projectors in phones back in 2007/8 in the Asian Electronic trade rags, supposed to have shown up by now, must have been a little forestalled by all the Android / iPod battles. So do movies / books / cartoon constitute prior-art, given the idea for this has been around an awful long time.

    I remember seeing some patents that had no physical embodiment.

  12. notice


    seems to be a disconnect between real life and sci-fi. Dr Who, Minority Report and Avatar did not actually happen - they are fiction.

    Like AC says - it's just special effects.

    Just because someone once showed something in a cartoon or film doesn't mean it was actually invented at that point - patents require that you actually are able to carry them out. That's what perpetual motion machines are always rejected by the Patent Office


      Problems with reality.

      > seems to be a disconnect between real life and

      > sci-fi. Dr Who, Minority Report and Avatar did not

      > actually happen - they are fiction.

      So Apple has a device like this today?

      Probably not.

      I think it's you that doesn't quite grasp the reality of the situation here.

      In truth, Apple's patent is no less of a fantasy than my childhood daydreams. The difference is that Apple will get to shake down the guys that actually make this product real.

      1. ideapete

        Good reminder

        He who dreams and invents things is one thing , He who has a BIG legal department defines what reality IS and will sue the crap outa you if you disagree

  13. Rinsey

    Help us Obi Wan Kenobi

    You're our only hope...

  14. pear

    Fahrenheit 451

    sounds like ^

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Boilerplate patent-related comment

    How dare [Company X] patent this? I remember [Company Y] showing something similar (at least in my mind, not that I've bothered to read either the article, or the patent) in [Year Z]. What next? Maybe I should patent [some fundamental design pattern in nature, described in pseudo-patent-ese, in an attempt to seem clever and witty].

    Don't try to patent this type of comment - there's plenty of prior art. And more on the way... (sigh)

    1. ideapete

      The Greeks Dunnit

      Give up all techies - the Greeks really own the patents to everything as we all know Plato and Aristotle invented it all

  16. magnetik

    patenting ideas

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought IDEAS could not be patented !? Apple don't have this IDEA working in practise (obviously, unless they have a nuclear powered iPhone), so how can they be granted a patent for it?

    I'm gonna start trawling through sci-fi novels looking for novel ideas and submitting patents for them, (along with the obligatory diagrams done by a teenager from a tech-drawing class) and wait for some clever people to make the ideas practical, then sue the crap out of them.

    1. Richard Scratcher

      I think you may be wrong!

      Have a look at this story from the late great physicist Richard Feynman.

      This may be another case of "Only in America" though.

      1. ideapete

        Wasn't he great

        Nice post - We need to clone the great Feynman's DNA and flood the world with him.

        The great Bongo player must be looking from on high in amazement at all the wannabees who couldn't reach higher than his bootlaces ( which he didn't use either )

    2. ideapete

      Look at the post below

      Trawl all you want the US army already did it. Relating to the great Feynman and the patent for a dollar joke which is sadly true. In the UK they stiffed the boffin for his quid ( or maybe 6 pence )

  17. g e

    So much prior art

    Didn't motorloa have a pico DLP projector thingy? Samsung did, I'm fairly sure

    Gestures... Microsoft Kinect, surely? If not visually sensed then Nintendo Wii for accelerometer sensing.

    Communicating between devices? The teletype and a modem.

    Seriously if you find a novel method of taking a dump then you should patent it in the USA...

  18. Cameron Colley

    So, projectors and Win2VNC* then?

    Are Apple and Google having a "Who can patent the most stupid or obvious idea." contest?

    *Or Citrix Cloud Desktop probably, or any one of many solutions to have devices control each other.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have to admit

    that I am not seeing the obviousness (or prior art) that some of the commeters above are suggesting.

    What I am seeing is a file on one device between split into 3 sections with 2 of those sections being sent to other not physically connected and non-similar devices that then project the 3 parts to create one seamless image and that wafting a hand around in front of any part of that reconstructed image (regardless of which unit is projecting it) can control the display. (Sorry for the very long sentence.)

    Using the Smartboard example someone mentioned earlier - all the projectors would have to be the same and they would be doing it using a conventional screen-sharing procedure. Whether a Smartboard system would actully work over 3 screens I have some doubt - as keeping them working on 1 screen is quite often a pain in the arras. Calibration drifts all over the place on one screen so.....

    It may be possible and someone may have done it. I don't know.

  20. xoiTech Blue


    Looks a tad like this

  21. ideapete

    Been doing that 4 years to the future AGAIN - Got wimote Got wall-screen unless they want to make porn work better , now there's an opening ( pun ) -- Do it on the wall

  22. ideapete

    Steve says IT-IS

    Apple submits a patent and at the top you probably see the acronym IT / IS or " this is unique to Info Tech / Int or Info Syst but what Big A really means is

    " Steve says IT IS so that's frigging it "

  23. Jean-Luc
    Thumb Up

    Gotta a cunning plan to get rich

    I'm going to file a patent using Minority Report's handwaving scenes as supporting documentation.

    Clearly, anyone using their hands to interact with a computerized device, of any kind, in any fashion not requiring a keyboard/mouse/screen, will need to pay me megabucks.

    All I need is the lawyer-ese.

  24. Mick F

    Stealing Samsung's ideas

    1. ideapete

      Sam Sung

      But Steve got the money

  25. wsm

    Wait, wait, wait...

    I hold the patent on any device that can place an image on a wall, platform or motion picture screen by means of light projection from an electronic source without the use of film or glass slides.

    I'm gonna be rich.

    1. ideapete

      Bansky dunnit - and in color 2

  26. amanfromearth


    Put your picture on my wall

    it reminds me that it's not so bad, not so bad.

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