• Apple is focused on its AR push
  • A new patent granted to the company proves this
  • The new patent shows how Apple's devices can acquire precise environment mapping data

A new patent granted to Cupertino tech giant Apple shows the company's efforts in creating a technology that could help its future devices provide better augmented reality experiences.

Apple's new patent, titled “Multiple user simultaneous localization and mapping,” deals with a problem that could plague its long-rumored AR smartglasses and attempts to introduce an even better way for devices to acquire precise environment data. The patent was filed just last year, but it was already granted on Tuesday.

The patent describes a method that uses several devices to have an accurate measurement of things in the environment. Whereas traditional methods involved a single device capturing data for itself, the methods described in the patent involved several devices collecting environment details then sharing them with each other.

Augmented reality devices need to have an accurate measurement of things in the environment so they can provide great AR experiences to users. Failure to acquire a precise set of environment data can result in different problems.

For example, the iPhone needs to know the exact position of a piece of furniture, such as a couch, in a room so that it will be able to place virtual reality objects in AR apps accurately. Failure to determine the precise location of the furniture in a room could result in errors in augmented reality applications.

While a single device might be able to acquire data precisely, the data-gathering process can be slow depending on the device's specs. In addition, using more than one device to acquire the same data can result in errors because the data the devices collected may not be exactly the same.

The method introduced in the new Apple patent means users will be able to capture environmental details faster. For example, two persons are looking at the same object from different perspectives – Person A looks at it from the left, while Person B looks at it from the right. Their devices will collect measurements and share them with each other so they will have the same set of data.

The data acquired using this process can then be used for various purposes. It can be used for object positioning, AR mapping and so on.

It is believed that this technology could be used on Apple's upcoming augmented-reality smartglasses, the Apple Glass. Users will be able to acquire precise location data, complete with details about certain objects in the vicinity or environment, simply by sharing information with others.

Apple AR mapping
An illustration showing how Apple's patented "simultaneous localization and mapping" technology will work. Apple/USPTO