Apple might be the only major tech company which hasn’t released a virtual reality (VR) product but its definitely working on it. The latest indication of this is a newly published patent highlighting work on a boundary system for those in VR.
A highly important feature used by every headset on the market, as any VR user knows the digital boundary stops you walking into a real-world object like a wall – also good to stop you breaking controllers on walls or furniture.
Spotted by Apple Insider, the patent was published last week titled ‘Detecting Physical Boundaries‘ after an initial filing back in March. The patent is a continuation of several others dating back to 2017 from a ‘Physical Boundary Guardian’ patent.
Systems such as Facebook’s Guardian and Valve’s Chaperone put up a digital wall indicating the edge of the area players have previously marked out. Apple’s solution looks to go a step further with a dual process depending on how close a person is to an object.
So in the first instance the patent notes the system will: “Display a visual indication in the virtual reality environment wherein the visual indication corresponds to the distance associated with the physical object.” So this could be a grid wall or other visual aid.
Should the VR user continue onward the it’ll then use another method to: “Replace at least a portion of the display of the virtual reality environment with a visual representation of at least part of the physical environment, the visual representation provided using the one or more cameras.” So it’ll show you the table you’re about to hit.
Apple’s patent also looks at adding ‘one or more’ virtual objects to stop someone, such as popping in a virtual painting or beach umbrella. Of greater interest is the ability to manipulate the virtual environment so the person is turned around, aiding rather than breaking immersion.
Of course, whether this research will see the light of day is unknown as Apple has never been outwardly fond of VR. Most of its efforts have been geared towards augmented reality (AR) like ARKit. As further details surface, VRFocus will let you know.
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