Apple patent filing hints at Google Glass-like tech

A patent application published yesterday reveals that Apple seems interested in combining a high-resolution digital display with portable head gear.

Heads up, Google. Apple may be eyeing its own "portable heads-up display" that could one day give Google Glass devices some competition.

Outlined in a filing published by the U.S. Patent and Trade Office yesterday, Apple's patent application refers to a technology that increases the resolution on a display without increasing the number of pixels. Such technology could be used in a portable heads-up display, Apple explained, where limiting the number of pixels is especially useful.

"In particular, a portable heads-up display may be size and weight constrained such that addition of physical pixels may not be practical," Apple wrote in the filing. "Conventionally, fewer physical pixels may mean lower cost to manufacture, lower weight, smaller size, but also lower resolution."

In short, the new technology could bump up the resolution on a small, lightweight device that doesn't cost much to make.

This latest patent follows another one published earlier this month dubbed "Peripheral treatment for head-mounted displays." In this one, Apple specifically refers to the invention of a "head-mounted display apparatus" which would project an image viewable by the user.

But such a head-mounted display from Apple probably isn't around the corner. AppleInsider noted that the commercial use of the technology isn't likely to happen any time soon. And as the The Next Web points out, Apple often applies for patents that don't end up in actual products. A patent is simply a way of legally protecting an invention rather than a plan to bring it to market.

Aside from head-mounted displays, Apple is also looking to further the use of the iPhone as a game controller.

As detailed by IGN, another Apple patent published yesterday pictures the iPhone tapping into NFC, or near field communications, to pair with other devices. The iPhone could then be used as a pad for game consoles and potentially other gadgets.

As IGN notes, this patent could be yet another sign that the next iPhone will include the necessary hardware to function as an NFC-capable device.

 

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