An Apple patent (number 20110197147) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that shows Apple is considering integrating projectors into upcoming iOS devices — and perhaps Macs, as well.

The patent, entitled “Projected Display Shared Workspaces,” involves systems, methods, and devices that are provided for creating a shared workspace where images may be shared between projected displays. In one embodiment, electronic devices each may include a projector that produces a projected display and a camera that detects gestures made with respect to the projected displays.

The electronic devices may interpret gestures on the projected displays to identify image sharing commands for sharing images between the projected displays. The electronic devices may be connected through a communication link that allows the electronic devices to share image data for producing images on any of the projected displays included within the shared workspace. Anthony Y.S. Fai is listed as the inventor.

Here’s Apple’s background and summary of the invention: “The present disclosure relates generally to electronic devices, and, more particularly to electronic devices with projected displays that may be in communication with one another to form a shared workspace.

“This section is intended to introduce the reader to various aspects of art that may be related to various aspects of the present disclosure, which are described and/or claimed below. This discussion is believed to be helpful in providing the reader with background information to facilitate a better understanding of the various aspects of the present disclosure. Accordingly, it should be understood that these statements are to be read in this light, and not as admissions of prior art.

“Consumers frequently store many types of data on electronic devices, such as cellular telephones, portable media players, laptop computers, and personal data assistants. For example, consumers may store photographs, movies, presentations, messages, documents, databases, and spreadsheets on electronic devices. Due to the increasing portability of electronic devices, consumers frequently share data stored on electronic devices with other people.

“Many electronic devices include display screens that allow a consumer to display the data and allow viewing of the data by other people. However, to facilitate portability, these display screens may be small, which may inhibit viewing by larger groups of people. Further, to facilitate viewing on the display screen, the electronic device may be transferred between viewers, which may be inconvenient.

“A summary of certain embodiments disclosed herein is set forth below. It should be understood that these aspects are presented merely to provide the reader with a brief summary of these certain embodiments and that these aspects are not intended to limit the scope of this disclosure. Indeed, this disclosure may encompass a variety of aspects that may not be set forth below.

“The present disclosure generally relates to electronic devices that may be connected to one another over one or more communication links to produce a shared projected workspace. In accordance with certain embodiments, each electronic device may include a projector that may be used to produce a projected display. Two or more projected displays, each from a separate electronic device, may be displayed proximate or adjacent to one another to produce the shared projected workspace.

“Images displayed on one of the projected displays within the shared workspace may be transferred and/or copied to another projected display within the shared workspace. According to certain embodiments, the electronic devices may include a graphical user interface (GUI) for transferring images between the projected displays. The electronic devices each also may include a camera that detects user gestures on the projected display. In these embodiments, a user may perform a gesture to transfer images between the projected displays.”

— Dennis Sellers