Among the 44 patents for Apple Inc. published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is a patent for compositing an AR scene from AR content which is embedded within an image.
First discovered by Patently Apple, are two illustrations of how the AR functionality would be used, shown in the figures below. For example, what can be seen in Figure 11 are the assembly instructions for a piece of furniture (like a more advanced Ikea Place) which would be displayed in a 3D AR scene. Figure 8 illustrates sample sketches to be composited in a similar 3D AR scene.
The granted patent comes from work developed by individuals Netanel Hagbi and Oriel Bergig from Flyby Media, an AR company acquired by Apple, and Israeli computer scientist Jihad El-Sana. The acquisition of Flyby Media originally focused on the ARKit platform and it is unclear if they are now working on Apple's upcoming AR project.
With Apple’s ARKit and new TrueDepth Camera on the iPhone X finally reaching the public, it’s clear that the invention detailed in the patent was one of the company’s first. The works filed to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office date back to 2008, indicating that Apple began developing AR ideas from around the same time as when the Macbook Air was released.
How the patent factors into Apple’s 2020 AR project is still unknown.