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Apple Tackles A Different Set Of Privacy Concerns With Newest Published Patent

Apple Tackles A Different Set Of Privacy Concerns With Newest Published Patent

May 22, 2011
Patently Apple today came out with another new patent discovery just published by the USPTO. The core import of the document is described thus:
The main focus of Apple's patent appears to be about a method of controlling the viewing angle of a display so that a user could implement a unique privacy type of function that restricts viewing of the display to only the one looking at the display directly in front of it. All peripheral viewing is locked out by controlling display elements that the patent painfully describes in detail.
Since that detail is so painful, I'm going to stay right out of it. However, the technology Apple's promoting -- applicable to all manner of electronic screens -- uses some propriety implementation of tiny prismatic films or liquid crystals to "steer" light beams in a solid-state, user-controllable fashion. The idea isn't particularly new, but the method to achieving the effect seems novel. Cited examples include blocking sensitive data from the view of others in computer-based scholastic testing, during vehicular operations, in public situations (riding a train, standing at a bus stop, etc.), confidential patient-to-patient hospital use, and various law enforcement applications. Personally, I see some small potential in these cases, but there are already hundreds of physical accessories and screen films to address nearly everything here. Therefore, while most of the patent discusses this advancement in terms of its operating as a "privacy shield," it is logical to apply it towards the growing 3D (and "multi-viewer") trend. The Nintendo 3DS creates a glasses-free viewing experience via a functionally similar (if simpler and less precise) mechanism, so it is natural to assume Apple is investigating this new model's efficacy in that realm. Still, don't hold your breath for an iPad 3D. Would something like this actually help you be more comfortable in public? (Don't let anyone look over your shoulder while commenting!)

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