In July Patently Apple posted a patent application report titled "Apple Patent Reveals the Exciting Possibility of Augmented Reality Smartglasses." The technology behind that invention came from Metaio, a company that Apple acquired back in 2015. Their technology is thought to be behind Apple's push into augmented reality and ARKit. Today Apple was granted another Metaio patent for an advanced 3D printer which could work with Augmented Reality (AR) and more importantly AR glasses.
Apple Wins Patent Relating to a 3D Printing System
Apple's newly granted patent covers their invention relating to a method for instructing a 3D printing system comprising a 3D printer and to a 3D printing system. The present disclosure is further related to a method for instructing a device communicating with a 3D printing system comprising a 3D printer.
Apple notes that there's a need for further applications of a 3D printer, such as extending an existing real object through printing additional objects onto a surface of the existing object by using a 3D printer. One challenge in such applications may be where to place the existing object or how to adjust one or more print heads of the printer such that the additional objects will be printed onto a desired area of the surface of the existing object in order to build a composed object satisfying a pre-determined alignment between the additional objects and the existing object.
Apple further notes that there isn't any prior art that solves the problem of using a 3D printer to print at least one object onto a desired surface area of an existing object or a part of the existing object in order to build a composed object satisfying a pre-determined alignment between the at least one object and the existing object.
Therefore, it is an object of this invention to provide a method for instructing a 3D printing system comprising a 3D printer which is adapted to print at least one object onto a desired surface area of an existing object or a part of the existing object in order to build a composed object satisfying a pre-determined alignment between the at least one object to be printed and the existing object. A further object of the invention is to provide a corresponding 3D printing system.
Works with Augmented Reality
A 3D printer could print or produce a real object, which is physical and tangible, from a virtual model of the object. Surface texture of the printed object is depending on materials used by the printer for printing. The surface texture of the printed object cannot be physically changed or modified after the object is completely printed. There may be a need to visually augment a surface texture of a printed object without re-printing another physical object from the same virtual model with different materials.
Augmented reality (AR) could be employed to visually augment the printed real object by providing an AR visualization of overlaying computer-generated virtual information (i.e. computer-generated image) with a view of the printed object or a part of the printed object.
The virtual information can be any type of visually perceivable data such as texture, texts, drawings, videos, or their combination. The view of the printed object or the part of the printed object could be perceived as visual impressions by user's eyes and/or be acquired as an image by a camera.
The overlaid information of the computer-generated image and the real object can be seen by the users in a well-known optical see-through display having semi-transparent glasses. The user then sees through the semi-transparent glasses the real object augmented with the computer-generated image blended in in the glasses. The overlay of the computer-generated image and the real object can also be seen by the users in a video see-though display having a camera and a normal display device. The real object is captured by the camera and the overlay is shown in the display to the users. The overlay of the computer-generated image and the real object may also be realized by using a projector to project the computer computer-generated image onto the real object.
The AR visualization could run on a mobile device equipped with a camera. The equipped camera could capture an image as the view of the at least part of the real object. The mobile device may further have semi-transparent glasses for the optical see-through, or a normal display for the video see-though, or a projector for projecting the computer computer-generated image.
Apple's granted patent 9,776,364 was originally filed in Q3 2013 (by Metaio) and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office. You could review this complex invention here for more details.