Have you seen the video below? Purporting to be a concept demo of the next iPhone, it’s recently gone viral on the web. Go on and hit play, it’s only a minute – we’ll still be here.
What did you think? My first reaction was “wow, that would be awesome!” Comments on YouTube, meanwhile, seem to have gone straight to “wow, that’s a load of BS.” So is this a real prototype? An elaborate fake? Or something in between? To find out, I did some internet legwork, and I’m presenting the results in this special 2-part post. Read on to see what I found.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any contacts at Apple, and even if I did, they probably wouldn’t be able to confirm or deny rumors. Instead, I looked at the technology implied by the video, and roughly estimated how plausible it is. The video highlights 3 main features, so let’s dive into them one at a time.
1. Projection Keyboard. Believe it or not, this technology exists and has been around for 10 years (or more). The science is straightforward: a projector casts the image of a keyboard onto a flat surface, while an infrared or other sensor detects your finger movements. An algorithm then combines this information to deduce which key you tapped. I couldn’t find any existing mobile devices that incorporate this technology. But it’s commercially available as a standalone device that connects to your other gadgets via Bluetooth. In fact, ThinkGeek can sell you one right now, in time for Christmas even.
The video above does bump into a problem here, namely the size. The virtual keyboard I’m talking about measures 38 x 75 x 29 mm, or as the manufacturer optimistically notes, “about the size of a small cellular phone.” Those dimensions actually make it considerably bulkier than my current-generation Android. While Apple’s engineers are likely ahead of what’s on the market now, it’s awfully hard to see how they cram this into an iPhone-sized device. Perhaps the iPad would make more sense.
Plausibility: It’ll almost certainly happen, but you’ll see it in a tablet long before it shows up in a smartphone.
What about that cool holo-display, you ask? And the incredibly thin design? Click here to read Part II and find out!
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