Goodbye projector, hello iPhone? Apple has submitted a patent application for a device which could someday replace the projector, that staple of boardrooms and summer-vacation slideshows. Apple's proposed technology would allow users to share images, documents, or PowerPoint displays directly from their iPhone, iPad, MacBook, or iPod Touch. Though tiny "pico projectors" have been used in a few devices before, Apple's patent application includes a number of new ideas. Here, a brief guide:

How would this projector work?
The patent application calls for a pico projector lens to be integrated into devices that run on Apple's iOS operating system. The lens would project images onto a wall, door, or tabletop, eliminating the need to connect a computer to a projector.

Is that the only new concept?
No. In what may be the most exciting development, Apple's new projection system would also use cameras to detect gestures that are performed in the beam of the projected image. This would let users manipulate the image with a simple Minority Report-style hand movement. A swipe, for example, could move an image from one display to the next, while a pinch could reduce the size of the image. 

When will this become available?
Who knows? Apple has applied for patents on dozens of products, like a new "keyless keyboard," that might never see the light of day. Some observers, however, were surprised by the level of detail included in this patent application — which seems to suggest that Apple's development teams are "moving full steam ahead" on the innovation. The company has also acquired the domain name "," leading to further speculation that the company is taking this concept very seriously.

Sources: CNET, PatentlyApple, PCWorld