Apple’s research and development team houses some of the most brilliant minds in technology today. Even the inventions that don’t make it into consumer products are worth dozens of ohs and ahs.

The latest patent uncovered by the folks at Patently Apple is no different. The filing, submitted back in 2009, describes a method of allowing a user to steer light beams in different directions to effectively produce a new private viewing option…

What do they mean by private viewing? Have you ever seen folks use those tinted covers over their computer displays? While these screens help reduce glare from the monitor, they also keep peeping toms at bay by cutting off side viewing angles.

This way, only the user directly in front of the monitor can view the information. In Apple’s invention, a hybrid display would give users the option to turn on a similar private viewing mode, if they didn’t want to share content with others.

The patent mentions that the invention could be applied in a number of consumer products, including cellular telephones, personal digital assistants, and other wireless communication devices.

You could use this new technology to privately read emails or text messages on the subway, or to look at p0rn at the office (don’t act like you weren’t thinking that). Whatever the case, it seems like a cool idea on paper, but don’t hold your breath.

We’ve reported on many of Apple’s patents here on iDB, and a majority of them don’t materialize. The filings have become more or less tools for the court room, which Lodsys has been kind enough to remind us all.

iDB wants to know, would you like to see a private viewing mode for your iPhone?