Apple patent tips iPhone, Airport Express & MacBook with integrated projectors

Just what are Apple doing with pico-projectors in their R&D labs?  Another patent application from the company has been spotted, this time describing various configurations: Apple reckon you could fit a pico-projector into not only an iPhone or iPod, but into an Airport Express style wireless router, a MacBook or a separate accessory.

Meanwhile they've thrown various sensors into the mixture too, adding to the projector's own image calibration with various orientation, distance, ambient light and other measurements.  For instance, color balance could be automatically shifted depending on lighting and the color of the surface being projected onto.

Apple's suggested applications and tweaks are all relatively vague – though isn't that always the way in patents – but it seems they're looking into everything from a relatively straightforward pico-enabled handset to a home router that can also be the center-point of your cinema room.  Connectivity could be via cable or via some sort of network connection, be it WiFi, cellular or something else.  We'll have to wait and see what exactly – if anything – Apple do with the technology, but we'd wager we're not the only people mildly interested at the prospect of turning our HDD-equipped router (with standalone BitTorrent downloads please, Apple) into a projector.

[via PicoProjector-Info and via Patently Apple]