Rumors indicate that Apple is trying out several methods that would allow the possibility of using a virtual keyboard with Augmented Reality (AR) glasses.
Apple is reportedly exploring methods of using keyboards with AR glasses or other types of head-mounted devices, which include virtual keyboards projected onto different surfaces. According to reports, the Cupertino-based company is developing a head-mounted device and virtual keyboard. While the device may be an Apple Glass with AR or AR headset, rumors also indicate that a virtual reality prototype device is already in the works.
In Apple's patent application published on Oct. 15 with the title "Keyboard Operation with Head-mounted Device," the company revealed multiple ways that a user may use physical or virtual keyboards with AR glasses, such as the rumored Apple Glass, or similar devices. Such virtual keyboards are projected on any type of surface. The patent provides some background on what such head-mounted devices are comprised of. For instance, the company explained the headset may have sports lenses and equipped with multiple cameras. The display lenses, which have vision-correcting optical features, may exclude a physical environment or overlay some information on top.
When users need to input text, they could use the head-mounted "Apple Glass" device with the physical keyboard or virtual keyboards projected on any surface. The text typed on the keyboard appears on the field of vision of the user through the head-mounted device's display lenses. "A head-mounted device can provide a virtual keyboard based on the arrangement of the user's hands with respect to a surface," the patent stated. In the case of the virtual keyboard, the patent also stated that the device can detect where the keyboard is by determining the position of the user's hands on the surface.
In any of these situations, Apple says that placing a tracking device close to the hands of the user may input text to the rumored "Apple Glass" or head-mounted AR device. Apple said that this is possible through the use of inertial measurement units, hand-tracking systems, or force detection sensors. "It will be understood that combinations of the above can be provided such that operation of the virtual keyboard is detected based on multiple detections," according to the patent.
The patent also revealed that the tracking sensors allow the keyboard to function without relying on signals. This means that typing motions are detected by "Apple Glass" or the head-mounted AR device, which allows the use of virtual keyboards projected on surfaces and without any electronics within them. The patent also stated that you can also use an Apple Pencil or other types of stylus pens with the head-mounted AR device to draw or put annotations on flat surfaces.