We've seen a few Apple 3D patents before, but this latest IP portfolio addition shows Cupertino has clearly been thinking differently. At its core the system involves a screen, projector, sensor, and a 3D imager, which work together to allow multiple viewers to perceive 3D images from nearly any position in a room without glasses. This flexible autostereoscopic 3D effect is achieved by tracking user's positions and projecting pixels onto a reflective, textured surface that then bounces separate images into the left and right eye. Virtual interaction methods with the 3D projections are also described in the document, implying the technology has aspirations beyond passive viewing.

Speaking of aspirations, Apple's approach clearly seeks to fix many common 3D issues at once. The most obvious is literally taking 3D glasses of the picture -- which we firmly support. On the flip side, the design addresses common faults with current glasses-free options too such as: ghosting and narrow viewing angles, while still keeping commercial viability in mind. That sounds magical to us, but considering the patent was filed back in 2006, we still expect 3D to be handled the old fashion way for quite a while to come.

While we're on the subject of patents, a handful more popped in by way of Apple related to keyboard backlighting. Think multiple colors, individually lit, customizable by the user or automated based on environmental conditions and you get the gist. Hey, if it means a return for the Bondi Blue late 90's iMac design (with bright, matching keyboards), then we're excited. But it doesn't.

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Apple granted patents for glasses-free, multi-viewer 3D system, colorful keyboard backlighting