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Apple Patent Application Points to 3D Multi-Touch Manipulation

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The Baltimore Sun yesterday dug up a relatively recent patent application from Apple describing the manipulation of three-dimensional images on a variety of devices, including such implementations as the iPhone or the company's as-yet-unreleased tablet. Curiously, while the patent application is credited to several Apple engineers in France, the company's name appears nowhere on the application. Documents filed alongside the application on September 28th, 2008, however, list Apple as the holder of the intellectual property based on an assignment from the inventors.

Speculation regarding 3D graphics in Apple's tablet began circulating after former Google China president Kai-Fu Lee briefly mentioned the technology in passing as part of a blog post disclosing information he claims to have received about the device.
For electronic devices that display a three-dimensional virtual space on the touch screen display, present user interfaces for navigating in the virtual space and manipulating three-dimensional objects in the virtual space are too complex and cumbersome. These problems are exacerbated on portable electronic devices because of their small screen sizes.

Accordingly, there is a need for electronic devices with touch screen displays that provide more transparent and intuitive user interfaces for navigating in three-dimensional virtual spaces and manipulating three-dimensional objects in these virtual spaces. Such interfaces increase the effectiveness, efficiency and user satisfaction with such devices.
In order to address this need, the patent application suggests a number of methods of using multiple finger gestures to move screen objects in relation to one another on a three-dimensional basis.

Apple has long held an interest in bringing three-dimensional display elements to its devices using both perspective-based implementations in two dimensions and more advanced techniques for generating lifelike three-dimensional images, with previous patent applications addressing stereoscopic displays, multidimensional desktops, and "hyper-reality" displays. This new application, however, reveals added research in multi-touch capabilities and portable devices in relation to 3D images.

Article Link: Apple Patent Application Points to 3D Multi-Touch Manipulation
 

adamw

macrumors 6502
Sep 22, 2006
378
403
This would be very cool. I am glad that Apple owns this patent and not someone else...
 
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zombitronic

macrumors 65816
Feb 9, 2007
1,115
6
Good stuff. If you're going to create 3D environments you better make sure that you can intuitively navigate through them.
 
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macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
11,304
15,344
Central U.S.
I really, really hope that this carries over to the iPhone 3GS model in 4.0. It's time that the interface gets an overhaul, as everyone has copied it already. Just wait another two years, and every phone will have this look and people will praise them for being an iPhone killer. Rinse and repeat.

This is going to be a game changer. The atmosphere right now is just like it was before the iPhone launch. I can't wait, but probably won't buy the tablet as I'm hoping to upgrade my MBP either this fall or the next spring.
 
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M-3

macrumors newbie
Jan 4, 2010
8
11
Multi Dimensional

This is similar to what I mentioned in a thread yesterday about their other patent involving a multi-dimensional desktop. Could be pretty cool :)
 
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Sport73

macrumors member
Apr 28, 2005
92
37
Wellington, FL
Perhaps more interesting is the mockup of the device:

Notice the Optical Sensor (camera) at the center top, and the microphone moved to the front left.

Could this represent a form factor for the next iPhone?
 
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ctt1wbw

macrumors 68000
Jan 17, 2008
1,730
1
Seaford VA
And...cue lawsuit #4 from Nokia! :rolleyes:

I was just going to say, doesn't Nokia own the patent for this already? The own the patents for damn near everything, including microwave ovens, velcro, and those plastic wraps at the end of your shoelaces.
 
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aamojp

macrumors newbie
Jan 5, 2010
1
0
what's interesting is that if you read the patent summary area, 0008, it mentions "telephoning". That brings up two questions then:

1) is this the new iPhone 4.0 update (are patents created for software?)

2) will the TabletMac have "telephoning" capabilities?
 
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Shall22

macrumors newbie
Dec 30, 2009
6
0
Cambridge UK
Sun and others have been playing around with 3-d UIs - it's the the latest tech that's 'bubbling under', just like multi-touch was before the iPhone.

With the number of 3-d patents that Apple has been filing over the last three years, I have little doubt that they intend to dominate this interface and make it their own - again, just like multi-touch.

The tablet is the perfect opportunity.

The proximity sensor/camera combo in this filing suggests head-tracking, which would allow a 3-d display without the glasses.

Just think how popular a device would be that could download and play Avatar or Up in full 3-d.

Or the opportunities 3-d would give newspaper and magazine publishers, desperate for a new revenue model...

Or the sheer wonder of a 7mm thick device that appears to have infinite depth when you gaze into the screen.

10m sales in first year? Easy.
 
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cmaier

macrumors Core
Jul 25, 2007
20,741
23,153
California
The proximity sensor/camera combo in this filing suggests head-tracking, which would allow a 3-d display without the glasses.

Just think how popular a device would be that could download and play Avatar or Up in full 3-d.

.

No, that's not 3D. That's 2D that shows different sides of something as you turn your head. When you stare straight at the screen you'd see 2D.
 
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griz

macrumors 6502a
Dec 18, 2003
581
220
New London, NH
Exactly. And don't forget the OTHER special feature of the upcoming tablet, also patented by Apple: in-screen docking of the tablet to create a hybrid desktop/portable once you're home from the road or work...you read it here first. ;)

Is that some sort of Jedi mind trick? By saying I read it here first makes it so?
I'm thinking I read it first in the same place everyone else read it. On the actual Apple Patent. Or in an article like this from 2 years ago.

http://www.macdailynews.com/index.php/weblog/comments/15936/

I'm still confused by this concept. What advantage is it to have the computer dock inside the display other than to offer a larger display? The computing power inside the tablet can't possibly be adequate as a desktop replacement, so why would you want it inside a desktop form factor?
If the dock had more power in it and a larger hard drive, then the docking slot would be nothing more than a place to sync the tablet and store it. Seems like an overengineered dock then. Whatever Apple does, they will do it well, and most of us will not have seen it coming. We will oooh and aaah when we see it.
Unfortunately, there will always be those who will be disappointed. Think about the Gen1 iPhone. It had a handful of apps and lacked a ton of obvious features, yet it went straight to the top. The last 2 years of iPhone innovation has made it what it is now. And the tablet will be the same. The first generation will disappoint many, but those who know Apple will buy it and their satisfaction will increase as they own it.
 
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griz

macrumors 6502a
Dec 18, 2003
581
220
New London, NH
The proximity sensor/camera combo in this filing suggests head-tracking, which would allow a 3-d display without the glasses.

Just think how popular a device would be that could download and play Avatar or Up in full 3-d.

Head tracking 3D is vastly different from the stereoscopic view you get with glasses. Head tracking 3D requires that your head move side to side to see around objects which would mean that you would need to constantly be moving left and right to get a parallax shift because the same image is still entering both eyes. Stereoscopic 3D with glasses displays 2 different parallax shifted images that each enter your right and left eye separately so your brain can process them into a 3D image.
If Apple is able to generate a display that can send discrete images to each eye without the use of glasses and without giving the user a headache, then they will have a hit.
 
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rtdunham

macrumors 6502a
Jun 21, 2003
983
77
St. Petersburg, FL, Northern KY
Exactly. And don't forget the OTHER special feature of the upcoming tablet, also patented by Apple: in-screen docking of the tablet to create a hybrid desktop/portable once you're home from the road or work...you read it here first. ;)

It doesn't have to be that tricky. Don't forget Apple's proclivity for simplicity. Expect easy connectivity for a keyboard and external monitor. It thus becomes a component laptop, answering objections to a $1,000 product that's not a laptop but costs as much as one. Think of it as a reverse-engineered laptop with a removable screen, but one that in tablet mode is so much more than what's formerly been imagined..

Whether or not the new device runs full OSX, i see this as the start of migration of App Store Apps to Apple's larger products. And that's an exciting prospect.
 
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