Goodbye, Monitors? Apple Patents A ‘Desk-Free’ Computer With Smart Laser Projector

Imagine a Mac Mini that’s completely wireless and can project a large image on a wall instead of relying on an external monitor.

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Apple has recently scored a patent for what it calls a “desk-free computer,” which the company filed for back in 2008

The filing describes a computer that looks like a Mac Mini or some other small computer that includes a built-in projector.

This in turn would allow users to simply connect keyboard and mouse to this thing and place it on the opposite side of the wall, which would be used as monitor.
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Also included in the device would be an accelerometer and a proximity sensor to detect the device's distance from a wall surface, upon which an image would be projected.

Explaining the logic behind creating a kind of laptop-meets-Mac-mini-meets-projector, the patent states:

The integrated projector may also provide flexibility in the location, relative to the computer system and/or the user, and/or in the size of the projected image.

Display screens for both laptops and desktops are fixed in size, and have limited flexibility in location relative to the computer, either by wired connection and/or other physical constraint.

The patent document notes that the invention is not to be confused with so-called "smart projectors," which are limited in their image processing and color correction capabilities

Unlike traditional projectors, the desk-free computer would be able to process raw image data from a DVD or other digital medium.
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Conventional projectors receive processed data as a specific video protocol and at a predefined resolution output, both of which are determined by a DVD player or other multimedia component.

From top left: front, rear, top and side views of Apple's "desk-free computer."

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Apple's system is able to read data in the "raw space," or pixel-level output prior to rasterization or other preprocessing.

The device would also include a technology that is increasingly popular in relation to powering mobile devices: inductive charging

That method of wireless charging would mean that the computing device would not only be display-free, but it would also be able to function as a mobile solution, significantly cutting down the number of inputs and wires normally associated with mobile devices.

As with many Apple patent filings, there’s no indication as to when, or even if, this imagined device will ever become a reality and reach the commercial market

But for those who continue to wonder about the oft-rumored Apple smart television, this new patent could offer a peak at the true shape of the company’s future display-centric offerings.

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