An Apple Headset patent application describes how the device could allow users to see invisible or hidden things. This can range from invisible gases, via physical objects hidden in plain sight, to things like Wi-Fi.
This could have important security uses, such as being able to see a dangerous gas leak, as well as more mundane things like viewing Wi-Fi coverage in your home as you experiment with router placement…
Apple is believed to be working on at least three generations of augmented reality headsets. Two of them are fully enclosed mixed reality headsets (combining virtual reality and augmented reality), while the long-term focus is supposed to be Apple Glasses – overlaying AR information on what appear to be normal glasses.
The expected first Apple headset is an expensive device aimed primarily at developers. The design (form factor) would be similar to existing VR headsets, but with the addition of cameras on the outside to allow AR views of your surroundings. The upcoming Meta Quest Pro is expected to offer similar capabilities, with Mark Zuckerberg viewing it as a head-to-head battle between the two companies.
Future models may include additional sensors, as well as visible light cameras.
Apple Headset patent application
Apple obviously spotted a patent application that describes how additional sensors could be fitted to the helmet to allow the user to see things that cannot be seen with the naked eye. These things would then be overlaid on an AR view of the location.
The device may display a visualization of the non-visible feature overlaid on the view of the physical environment at a location that corresponds to the detected non-visible features.
Non-visible features can be, for example, electromagnetic signals such as Wi-Fi signals, airflow from an HVAC system, temperatures of physical objects, fluids or gases, audible fence created for a pet (eg, using ultrasonic locations), sounds generated by a musical instrument, and/or hidden physical objects such as objects with known locations that are obscured by other physical objects (for example).
If the HMD, smart glasses or other glasses “detect” a non-visible phenomenon (via specialized sensors), then the device will allow the user to actually see the ultrasound height range or see where actually a dangerous gas in their field of vision.
Visually tune musical instruments
One application described by Apple is the ability to visualize sound waves. The headphones can display a sine wave of the current sound and overlay the sine wave for the correct note, allowing the musician to adjust the tuning until the two match perfectly.
See the heat – from reducing energy consumption to detecting fires
An obvious sensor to install would be an infrared sensor, to allow users to see the heat. This would have a range of uses, from seeing where heat is lost in a room or house, to allow for more efficient insulation, to spotting fires through walls.
See inside closed cupboards
One application I would like to see is the ability to see inside closets.
We’ve all had times when we need to locate something, know it’s in one of the closets inside our home, but we can’t remember where. This is something that could be solved by an AR overlay, like this…
- Open all your closet doors
- Wear the helmet and walk around the house looking in every closet
- The headset captures video of cabinet contents and stores it
The next time you’re looking for something, you can just watch the closed closet doors and the headset will create an AR overlay of the contents of the closets, matching the stored video view to your position and the direction you’re looking.
Many other possible applications
Clearly, the range of potential applications for the technology described in the Apple Headset patent application is huge, limited only by the sensors that are practical and affordable to install.
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Apple Headset patent application describes the ability to see invisible and hidden things
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