Hunting down patent applications by Apple Inc. has become a hobby for many, as the company often drops hints regarding its future plans with the gadgets it sells, mainly the iPhone.
The latest such inventions cover ways to protect the device while falling, but also one particularly intriguing prospect where the user could activate lasers on the device to map their surroundings.
According to a recent filing with the United States Patent & Trademark Office signed Apple Inc., the tech giant headquartered at 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, California, is looking for ways to equip portable devices like the iPhone with lasers, sensors, and processors that can compute a user’s surroundings based on laser beams fired from the device.
An acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation,” a laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation.
Lasers are good for measuring distances because a concentrated beam of light will bounce back with far less divergence, delivering accurate readings of small areas. Movement allows for the sensors to pick up different readings, while the device’s processor is left with the task of computing the readings incrementally.
According to Apple’s filing with the USPTO, “Laser distance measuring devices include a laser and a sensor. The laser generates a laser beam that is reflected off of surfaces such as walls in a room. By detecting the reflected beam, a device can measure the distance to the surface.”
The iPhone maker further explains that “This type of laser distance measuring device sometimes includes area or volume measuring capabilities. For example, in a volume measuring mode, the device may instruct a user to sequentially measure the width, length, and height of a room using the device. The device can then compute a volume using the measured width, length, and height.”
It isn’t clear what Apple has in mind with this technology it hopes to credit to its name by filing a patent with the USPTO. What should be obvious is that the company plans on covering every scenario involving a handheld portable device.
If things continue to advance in this fast-paced manner on the patent front, Apple will be selling us a real Tricorder in a few years. We wouldn’t be surprised if the circular-shaped Apple Campus 2 eventually got equipped with thrusters for takeoff one day.