Apple Researching Motion-Sensing Virtual 3D User Interface for iOS Devices

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Apr 12, 2001
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Patently Apple reports on a newly-published patent application from Apple describing the use of motion sensors to create a virtual three-dimensional interface for iOS devices. Utilizing concepts similar those found in a number of existing augmented reality apps, the general device interface could appear as a virtual room that could be navigated by changing the orientation of the device.
The invention covers a 3D display environment for mobile device that uses orientation data from one or more onboard sensors to automatically determine and display a perspective projection of the 3D display environment based on the orientation data without the user physically interacting with (e.g., touching) the display.
Apple describes the use of gyroscope sensors that would allow the "camera view" of the virtual room to rotate as the user rotates their device. Apple also mentions that sensors could be used to detect gestures above the surface of the device's display in order to allow for natural 3D manipulation of the user interface environment.


Finally, Apple's patent application discusses a "snap to" feature that would allow users to easily transition between various "walls" within the virtual room.

In another patent application filed in mid-2007, Apple discussed a similar notion of multi-dimensional desktops in Mac OS X, showing a virtual room with various groups of icons on the different walls of the room. Apple followed that up with another patent application looking at hyper-reality displays that would allow for orientation- and motion-based manipulation of 3D objects.

Article Link: Apple Researching Motion-Sensing Virtual 3D User Interface for iOS Devices
 

RoelJuun

macrumors 6502
Aug 31, 2010
426
165
Netherlands
In a flash I read Apple adopting a Research In Motion interface. The horror.

On Topic:

I still don't believe in 3D interfaces/screens. My eyes get strained after a while. But then again, Apple is usually implementing technologies when they believe they have something really good to offer.
 

divinox

macrumors 68000
Jul 17, 2011
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0
Its a neat, somewhat impractical, dead-end of the desktop paradigm. Hardly novel or patent-worthy.

p.s.

As for the last paragraph, its kinda cute to see apple "copy" what was one of microsofts biggest interface failures ever (BOB).
 

Andronicus

macrumors 6502a
Apr 1, 2008
725
321
Hopefully this will come to play in iOS 6. iPhone's UI needs a major overhaul it was cool in 2007, but now looks old and dated.
 

rmwebs

macrumors 68040
Apr 6, 2007
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I may be 100% wrong here so forgive me, but doesn't the 3DS already do this? I was under the impression that the screen does software based 3d rendering using facial tracking to determine where you are, thus where the 3d display needs to position the content.

I could be way off so any input from a 3DS owner would help!
 

slrandall

macrumors 6502
Jun 15, 2011
412
0
This would be really cool as long as you could still pan around with your fingers. It'd be really annoying in certain situations to try to pull up an app and having to actually swivel around.

"Apple also mentions that sensors could be used to detect gestures above the surface of the device's display in order to allow for natural 3D manipulation of the user interface environment."
... like a multi-touch surface? I don't really understand what that means; could someone clarify what those gestures would be? Like in-air hand-waving?
 

thenerdal

macrumors 65816
Oct 14, 2011
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I may be 100% wrong here so forgive me, but doesn't the 3DS already do this? I was under the impression that the screen does software based 3d rendering using facial tracking to determine where you are, thus where the 3d display needs to position the content.

I could be way off so any input from a 3DS owner would help!
I Don't think the 3DS does facial tracking for the 3D.
 

simulacra

macrumors member
Jun 2, 2008
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Seems like a PITA to use, what if I'm a position where I can't twist around to use my phone?
 

unknownart

macrumors member
Jun 30, 2007
77
17
Texas
An App Already Does This?

Apple may be kinda slow on this and treading the lawsuit waters.
While, it's not 3D, I have an app on my iPod Touch that does this already...
360Panorama by Occipital. See: www.occipital.com Maybe Apple should buy Occipital? I dunno.

Oh, and it really isn't a great feature to move the device around in circles to see the (or any pre-recorded) environment. It's kind of a pain. I can't see how walking around while looking at a device will be of any use, unless it's in the dark and you don't want to bump into furniture.
 

The Phazer

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Oct 31, 2007
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London, UK
There are several apps in the App Store that already do exactly this, *even on iOS*.

If the US Patents Office doesn't throw this out under prior art instantly the place may as well get burnt down.

Phazer
 

3282868

macrumors 603
Jan 8, 2009
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I recall the 2008 patents for the 3D desktop and explored the concept. The factor that seemed to strike me as an impasse would be the possible necessity of more screen real estate as virtual 3D walls, etc would take more room away from the main backdrop (unless implementation assists in organizing icons, etc to save space). For a mobile device, adding these virtual features seems (at the moment) more eye candy than use. These days, with Facebooking, texting, Googling I'm sensing a social disconnect and would rather see less "virtual" interaction and more "physical" communication. I can't help but think of "Wall-E" as technology replaces more and more of our social fabric with 1's and 0's.

On point, this would be interesting in a 42" or 50" flat screen iTV ;).
 

george-brooks

macrumors 6502a
Oct 31, 2011
732
16
Brooklyn, NY
This looks cool but I can't really think of practical uses for it aside from Kinect type games, which I think would be difficult to play on such a small screen. Am I missing something here?
 

edoates

macrumors 6502
May 22, 2006
298
6
Saw a similar interface in 1987 by Todd Rundgren

in some ways this reminds me of Google's BumpTop purchase.
This reminds me of a navigation interface that I saw in 1987 at a PC World. It was written for the Mac by none other than Todd Rundgren. He used the outside of a cube that could be rotated, etc. to provide a graphical navigation surface. You could see the whole cube semi-tranparently (no, icons on the far face were not reversed, so you could still read them easily), and easily bring a face into focus taking over the screen.

Sort of like "expose" should have been, instead of it's very Windows 1 like tiled view of the four pages.

Even on his Mac SE 30, it ran reasonably snappily.
 

HiRez

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2004
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Western US
Hope I'm wrong, but that sounds terrible. Love the ATV remote on iPhone/iPad, and I can definitely see Siri control being useful. But this sounds like something more flashy than useful.
 

cvaldes

macrumors 68040
Dec 14, 2006
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somewhere else
There are several apps in the App Store that already do exactly this, *even on iOS*.

If the US Patents Office doesn't throw this out under prior art instantly the place may as well get burnt down.

Phazer
So when did those apps come out? This patent application was filed in July 7, 2010 by Apple.