Is Apple experimenting with 3D mapping techniques? It seems like it, as the company patented a special laser mapping system on December 4. The technology could be used in new iPads, MacBooks and its upcoming iWatch, reports Patently Apple, the media organization which came up with the scoop. Other media, such as 3Ders, International Business Times AppleInsider are talking about implementation in Apple TV as well as iPhones. What it basically is all about: Apple is probably working on its own alternative to 3D scanning techniques in order to enable its devices with 3D mapping technology.
This technique by Apple uses a laser beam that scans its environment. By scanning the surrounding environment, devices can create a map of rooms, objects and basically all things that are not too big and have a shape. By walking through a particular room, you automatically let your device 3D map the environment around you. The system might one day be used to provide customers with accurate directions to any point in the world.
Apple is not the first company to experiment with such a system. Google introduced Project Tango already earlier this year. However, the difference between their system and Apple’s patented one is that Google used different cameras to 3D map an environment. The same kind of technique is often being used by companies that 3D scan people and turn their scan into 3D printed figurines. The result of this technique, however, will probably be similar to Project Tango.
Google’s system has already been used in space to help NASA’s SPHERES robots on board the International Space Station (ISS). 3D Systems introduced the iSense device earlier this year, which is a device you can connect to your iPad, so the iPad can properly use 3D scanning technology. However, this is only a device and not a built-in functionality. Apple now seems to go for the built-in experience.
Image credits: Gonzolo Baeza H.