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Apple pauses world dominance to patent AR technology
Mon, 24th Apr 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

A mysterious (not really) patent has appeared, filed by Apple, that supports the rumours that the tech powerhouse is getting involved in augmented reality in the future.

The patent can be found here, and outlines a "method and device for illustrating a virtual object in a real environment". Using our deductive skills, we've figured out that it means AR technology that lets you put stuff in front of or behind other stuff. Sorry to get all technical on you there.

For those left unsatisfied with this description, here's how it reads on the patent:

The invention relates to a method for representing a virtual object in a real environment, having the following steps: generating a two-dimensional image of a real environment by means of a recording device, ascertaining a position of the recording device relative to at least one component of the real environment, segmenting at least one area of the real environment unmarked in reality in the two-dimensional image for identifying at least one segment of the real environment in distinction to a remaining part of the real environment while supplying corresponding segmentation data, and merging the virtual object with the two-dimensional image of the real environment with consideration of segmentation data such that at least one part of the segment of the real environment is removed from the image of the real environment.

So yeah, it seems like they're planning on developing software for checking out how things would realistically look in certain situations. Here's a handy picture for reference:

Think interior design. You could theoretically place and move objects in your home to see if they work to your liking, without having to even get off the couch. Or as the almighty patent says, it can provide an idea “of the suitability of various products for a purpose of use.” More vague, but you get the idea.

The patent is light on details about the technology, or how it will be operated, but I'd bet the house on the iPhone being the vessel for it. If Apple is getting serious about AR, it will be interesting to see where they take this technology.