The latest patent filing (via RedmondPie) that the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office granted Apple is centered around digital avatars. It mentions how an editing environment could let people create a “representation of their alter ego.” It sounds like Apple has bigger ideas though. Andrew Orr dives in and gives us his speculations.
Apple added another facial recognition company to its stable. This time it’s RealFace, the company behind the photo picker app Pickeez. Reports speculate Apple bought the company so it can jump into using facial recognition instead of Touch ID to unlock our iPhones. That may be Apple’s long-term plan, but don’t count on Touch ID going away any time soon.
Today Pinterest rolled out a new visual search tool called Lens. It’s a feature found within the app that uses machine learning to classify real-world objects. Lens suggests items in Pinterest that are related to the object. Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp demonstrated Lens visual search to detect a pomegranate, and Pinterest showed him pins about pomegranate bread, sandwiches and helpful tips to peel the fruit. Along with Lens, the company introduced Shop the Look, a tool that identifies objects in pins that you can purchase, and gives you a direct link to buy. Right now it’s only available for five brands. Although currently in beta, Lens is sure to help usher in augmented reality.
Robert Scoble said Monday that Apple is working with lens powerhouse Carl Zeiss AG on “mixed reality optics.” That’s one of the many terms used for augmented reality, for those keeping score at home. His evidence is circumstantial, at best, but I approve of his reasoning. While at the the Zeiss booth at CES, he learned the company was, “NOT showing off its mixed reality optics.” He then added, “I said ‘Tim Cook didn’t let you,’ and the employees around me smiled nervously.” Again, that’s circumstantial, but Mr. Scoble’s instincts have a good track record. To add further circumstantial speculation, Zeiss is the sort of company Apple might work with on any kind of lens-related product or technology. And we already knew that Apple has at least a thousand people working on augmented reality. So…I buy it.
Forget Pokémon. A really cool use for augmented reality on your iPhone is an animated 3D model of the White House, complete with an audio tour of its importance and history. The new app 1600, released this week by the White House Historical Association, uses AR to build a fully animated 3D model of the White House on a $1 bill while White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest narrates a miniature history lesson. Users can also tap on various parts of the model to reveal additional information and a few hidden secrets. Check it out now for free on the iOS and Android app stores.
Tim Cook reiterated his interest in both virtual and augmented reality this week, but argued that augmented reality has the potential to be a much larger deal than VR. So, with dozens of tech firms from Valve to Samsung to Facebook to Microsoft jumping in, what is Apple waiting for?