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iPad 5 rumor rollup for the week ending Feb. 6

"Depth perception wow feature," acronym bliss, stereo sound despair

By , Network World
February 07, 2013 05:04 PM ET

Network World - The most recent iPad 5 rumors draw fresh hope from newly announced Apple patents, from unnamed industry sources, and from pure wishful thinking.

We can count on a new wow feature soon, something to do with lasers and depth perception. And Apple will likely upgrade the iPad's display technology, if you're willing to accept industry sources at their word. Finally, if you want stereo speakers on the next iPad, start spreading rumors about it.

You read it here second.

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"For instance, in one application, Apple describes the new [laser depth perception] system integrated into an iPad that would be able to project a laser based keyboard onto a table. That would definitely be considered a wow-feature that could excite consumers."

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iPad 5 will have cool depth perception system with a unique laser projection keyboard feature

This is the assessment of Patently Apple's Jack Purcher after reading one of the latest 20 Apple patent applications published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. But even after reading his post, "Apple Reveals Cool Depth Perception System with a Unique Laser Projection Keyboard Feature for iDevices," it's hard to know 1) how it actually works, 2) what it's supposed to do, or 3) why we'd care.

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Maybe that's why it's cool.

Purcher says this patent is "the most of intriguing of all."

"While Apple has worked on 'presence detection systems' before relating to MacBooks and iDevices, this new system goes beyond mere detection," he explains. "For instance, in one application, Apple describes the new system integrated into an iPad that would be able to project a laser based keyboard onto a table. That would definitely be considered a wow-feature that could excite consumers."

Just reading about that wow-feature sends our pulse racing, our heart hammering, our hands trembling.

As near as we can figure out, a laser, or two, and a lens and an image sensor, or possibly the lens and image sensor of the existing or an improved camera, and a processor would perceive, umm, depth. Apparently, in practice this would mean the distance of the iPad from a surface. Or a person. Or both.

Then, the iPad could project an image of a control panel or keyboard onto the surface. And apparently your fingers on the projected keys would be translated into text. This latter step seems, to our unscientific mind, far more difficult and far more necessary if you're going to have a projected keyboard that you can actually use, instead of just look at.

It's all a little fuzzy.

But intriguing, no? "Remember, this could also apply to Apple's iPhone as well which would indicate that there would be some kind of associated smart cover or built-in stand so that the projected keyboard could function properly onto a surface. Apple's Smart Cover for the iPad may suffice or Apple could introduce a built-in kickstand as their September 2012 patent suggests."

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