And, unlike its many smartphone competitors, Apple isn’t focused only on technical gimmicks. They are trying to find actual use cases that could make pico projectors an indispensable part of iOS ecosystem.
In a patent application “Projected display shared workspaces” Apple describes pico projector accessory that can be connected to your iPhone or Macbook, or even integrated into an iPad. The projector also comes with a camera, and can read multi-touch gestures performed on a projected images.
The business environment/presentations are the most obvious place to use the projectors. By having several projector enabled iOS devices beaming their output to the screen on the wall, and coupling them via NFC or Bluetooth, users can create several shared workspaces. With a flick of the finger, they can transfer presentation files, graphics and images between devices, or create a single unified display from several projected screens.
Pico projectors have been promised to become an integral part of our mobile devices for a while now. We even have some projector smartphones like LG Expo and Samsung Beam, already in the market. And LG also has some similar camera/projector integration ideas to those above. But nobody has found a compelling use case for them yet and projector phones remain a niche curiosity for geeky show-offs.
So don’t hold your breath for finding this in your iPhone 5 or iPad 3, pico projecting technology does not seem to be up to Apple’s standards yet. But not so long ago camera in a phone was also a niche curiosity, taking really crappy pictures of your geek friends. And look where we are now.
Give it a few years, and Apple may figure out how to make pocket projectors work.