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December 2, 2015

Amazon and Apple go head-to-head in augmented reality

News: Both companies have filed patents with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

By Alexander Sword

Amazon and Apple have both filed patents with the US Patent and Trademark Office exploring ways in which to bring augmented reality (AR) into the living room.

The first of Amazon’s patents involves using light beams to display AR scenes in a room and track a 3-dimensional environment, enabling people to control devices by hand gestures. These would be monitored by cameras through recognition of several parts of the hand.

Bloomberg reported that Amazon’s second patent would use computer projections for transforming a room into a virtual setting that responds to the user’s senses.

Apple, meanwhile, has filed a patent for a projector that could use augmented reality to make digital content seem more real.

The patent, filed in December 2012 and first published by the Patent Office this week, describes an invention which uses two cameras to scan a room and then projects images onto objects using the information gathered.

The patent describes it as an "improved content projection device, which is aware of objects in its field of view, recognising such objects as suitable for projection of content thereon."

The user would therefore be able to see digital objects presented physically on paraphernalia in their own home, such as a table.

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"The projection device may adapt to the geometry and character of the objects by controlling scale, distortion, focus of the projected content, and varying the projected content itself."

Apple’s device would also be able to alter content based on the viewer’s own position within the room.

"Additionally or alternatively, the projection device may adapt the projected content according to the relationship of the viewer to the projected content, such as its gaze vector, distance from the surface onto which content is projected, and other similar parameters."

Apple has been making inroads into the augmented reality market with the acquisition of Metaio and hiring of former Microsoft HoloLens engineers. Amazon has also filed patents before in the augmented reality space.

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