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Apple AR glasses could let you see an invisible world — What that might mean

Apple Glasses
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple's AR glasses may do a lot more than beam maps and messages into users' field of vision; the tech giant recently won a patent that suggests the smart spectacles will be able to see invisible markers.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple a patent (via Patently Apple) suggesting a mixed reality system feature that can analyze optical markers that may reveal information about an electronic device. 

While the patent refers to a mixed-reality device, which could also be referring to Apple's VR and mixed reality headset, Patently Apply suggests it's for Apple glasses. As with all patents, just because a company is granted one, it doesn't mean it will be implemented. Still, this new feature seems to perfectly match up with AR glasses.

As the patent suggests, the mixed reality headset may include information on images captured with an image sensor for electronic devices. This can be done by the device being illuminated by one or more light beams from the depth sensor or other light sources.

"Analysis of the mixed reality marker images or other sensor data may reveal information on device type, device location, device size, device orientation, and other information on a marked device," the patent states.

Information on these markers could then be displayed as overlayed information on the AR glasses.

The patent also says that a "marker may be patterned to form a two-dimensional bar code, may be patterned to form an outline or other recognizable marker structure, and/or may be used in forming other recognizable marker structures to help provide information about an electronic device."

The makers can then be configured to highlight different parts of the device, and many even display "moving animated graphics" where the marker is placed.

There's no mention of whether the new feature will display information on other types of objects that aren't electronic, although rumour has it the Apple AR glasses will also be able to scan Apple QR codes — something that can be placed on many objects.

Only time will tell if the patent gets put to good use. Apple's smart spectacles are expected to release in 2025 according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, followed by some futuristic smart contact lenses.