Apple patent reveals plans for holographic display

Apple Online Store“A recently granted patent reveals that Apple, the company behind the iPod and iPhone, has been working on a new type of display screen that produces three dimensional and even holographic images without the need for glasses,” Richard Gray reports for The Telegraph.

“The technology could be used to produce a new generation of televisions, computer monitors and cinema screens that would provide viewers with a more realistic experience,” Gray reports. “The system relies upon a special screen that is dotted with tiny pixel-sized domes that deflect images taken from slightly different angles into the right and left eye of the viewer.”

Gray reports, “Apple also proposes using 3D imaging technology to track the movements of multiple viewers and the positions of their eyes so that the direction the image is deflected by the screen can be subtly adjusted to ensure the picture remains sharp and in 3D. The patent claims this technology would also create images that appear to be holographic because of the ability to track the observers movements.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. Because of Star Wars and the “holodeck” in Star Trek, some people imagine “holographic” to mean a 3D image projected in open space. But this is a realistic “holographic display,” where there is an actual “special screen” that tricks the user into seeing not only a 3D image, but one that changes its orientation as the viewer moves his head.

    I’ll think if it this way… 2D is both eyes seeing the same image from a fixed point. 3D is each eye seeing a slightly different offset image, but still from a fixed point. “Holographic” is 3D plus the ability for the viewer to move the point of view at will. I think it will be impractical to film the real world to create a holographic movie, but it should be very possible (given another ten years or so) to create a realistic virtual world where the computer creates every possible point of view “as needed” (on the fly).

  2. @Ken1w… Sorry, Ken, but the ST Holodeck is precisely what I would like to see. True, this patent may not go that far yet. But that, to me, is the eventual goal. 3D images “projected in open space” have been envisioned for years prior to Star Trek. Little by little, even what at one time had seemed to be the most incredible imaginings have materialized, or are on their way. I think that time travel will likely be one of the furthest down the road. But, even that has already had scientific underpinnings in place for many years. So, Apple may not have a true Holodeck experience for us yet, but I would like to think that such is the direction we are heading.

  3. @spyinthesky LOL.

    But I’m sure in thought it was supposed to ask where and how they would… Actually, I don’t know.

    The patent sounds very interesting though. Thats the only downside to 3D anyway. The glasses.

  4. Ken, I might also refer you to my own 1895 book, The Time Machine, as an earliest major envisioning of time travel. Although many others existed, my favorite early holodeck-type experience was found in the opening to Arthur C. Clarke’s 1956 book, City and the Stars.

  5. The headline is wrong: patents almost never reveal “plans” – they only reveal ideas, sometimes merely use to prevent others from taking a specific direction.

  6. “@Ken1w… Sorry, Ken, but the ST Holodeck is precisely what I would like to see.”

    Personally, I’d like to see the ST ‘Replicator’! Then I can say, “a thousand bucks” and the replicator obliges and then I have the money to buy Apple’s new holographic monitor! ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  7. @ Hg Wells

    A real Star Trek “holodeck” would obviously be very cool. But it will take quite “a long while” to not only see “holograms” materialize around you, but also to be able to touch them as if they are real objects. By the time such technology could possibly exist, humans will have figured out how to tap into the brain directly (hopefully more elegantly than in “The Matrix”), and bypass the need to use actual humans senses, such as eyesight and touch. Why alter the entire environment around the “user” when it is far easier to alter the sensory input going to the brain.

  8. @Re: @Hg Wells… I bet you can’t think of many times when you saw actual cash money tossed around aboard the Enterprise. And I know you’re not actually suggesting that $2,000 (one plus one replicated) would be enough to buy one of Apple’s new, currently non-existent, holographic monitors? Think bigger if you’re replicating money. However, once people are able to replicate money this way, all money becomes worthless anyway. Most people don’t want money. They want what money can buy. And it can’t buy everything.

  9. @Ken1w… Physically interacting with a holographic world is much more realistic than bypassing the physical for the purely sensory. You may recall The Menagerie [aka The Cage] where the Talosians lived much of their life in a sensory world and could be intimidated by actual physical/emotional interactions over which they had less control. For people to lose, by disuse, the ability to interact with their physical environment is not a good thing at all. It adds a level of unpredictability to the difficulty and realism of a programmed (or real) scenario.

  10. By the way, Ken, real holographic images outside of the controlled environment of a holodeck would have far more interest than the restrictions of an actual holodeck. I believe we are likely to see holographic projections of our contacts as part of standard “phone” calls before we advance to the complexities of full holodeck scenarios.

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