Future Apple computers could one day have two displays layered one right on top of another to create a sense of depth for what users see on screen.
A freshly posted Apple patent application (PDF), unearthed by AppleInsider this morning, details a "multilayer display device." The described system makes use of different displays that are layered together and can project different images, sometimes at once.
In the patent, the company notes that the quest for making displays that can add depth to two-dimensional device displays is making a comeback.
"Creating the illusion of a three-dimensional image on a two-dimensional display has been the subject of ongoing technological research and development, and is experiencing a worldwide resurgence due to recent developments in computer generated imagery and high-definition video."
The patent notes that the proposed, multilayer system could make use of multiple transparent OLED displays for the layer that appears in front of the first display, as well as using differing graphical processors for each layer. Under that system, the patent says the additional layers could be turned off if a device's battery was low to preserve power.
This is the latest in a series of 3D patents filed for by Apple. One the company filed for back in 2007 covered a "multi-dimensional desktop" and depicted a version of Mac OS X with various 3D elements. Another, filed for a year later, dealt with using camera-based head tracking to adjust 3D images to where the user was located in front of their computer. Perhaps the most related of the bunch, was a patent the company was actually granted late last year that covered projecting a 3D image that could be seen without the need for glasses.
The patent lists the multilayer display inventor as Peter Mahowald, who has been listed as the inventor or co-inventor on numerous Apple patents, including one for real-time feedback on karaoke.