The USPTO granted a patent to Apple for a laser keyboard which could project out of a mobile device, like an iPhone or iPad.
Yes, Apple has a patent for the laser keyboard we saw in the latest iPhone 5S concept video, and for a laser keyboard like we’ve seen in pretty much every mock-up video in the last 2 years, including the latest Galaxy S4 mockup.
Patently Apple shares details on an laser projection keyboard patent recently granted to Apple. While we don’t expect it to show up in the iPhone 5S, especially not in the same form as the video below it shows Apple is exploring similar methods of input.
Apple’s patent for a projected keyboard includes a diagram explaining how the system might work with a laser projected keyboard built into an iPad, even though the image looks more like an iPhone.
Patently Apple explains how Apple’s implementation would work,
In this example, the system may be used in combination with a projected control panel 115 (such as a keyboard, audio/video controls, and so on). The control panel 115 may be a light pattern projected from a light source onto a surface (e.g., table or desk), the control panel 115 may include different light shapes, colors, or the like for representing different inputs.
Depending on the implementation, it appears that Apple could expand this past a keyboard to projected controllers for gaming and other controls.
Patently Apple points to an older Apple patent for an iPad or iPhone with built-in kickstand as a means of propping the iPhone up at the right angle to make a solution like this work in the real world. Consumers could also see cases designed to work with such a system.
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