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Various sites are reporting on a patent application released today (number 20070085854) entitled "System and method for computing a desktop picture." The abstract reads:

Disclosed are a system and method for computing a desktop picture. Instead of loading a file that contains the desktop image from memory, the present invention provides for a system and method for opening and retaining a procedural recipe and a small set of instructions that can be executed to compute a desktop picture. The desktop picture can be computed very quickly using a GPU (graphics processing unit), and can be made to move on demand. When a part of the desktop image is needed to composite, that part is computed using a fragment program on the GPU using the procedural recipe and a specially written fragment program into a temporary VRAM buffer. After it is computed and composited, the buffer containing the result of the fragment program may be discarded.

In summary, Apple seems to be leveraging the programmability of today's modern GPUs to be able to create computed desktop pictures that can be constantly updated to changing situations on the user's desktop.

Apple suggests that situations such as logging in or out, waking from sleep, or coming out from a screen-saver are currently too jarring, and the invention hopes to make this experience more seamless. Also mentioned is a tool that would allow designers to edit and specify the user experience.

Apple also seems to be conscious about system resources, mentioning several times about opportunities to free resources for use by other applications.

Patent applications can provide interesting insight into what concepts or technologies Apple is working on in their labs, however readers are reminded that only a subset of these applications will make it into final shipping products.
 

c.joe.go

macrumors regular
Apr 15, 2007
106
0
the nexus of the universe
really impressive technology. seems rather obvious for evolution of the os, but to read more on it and the possible uses of this feature. i would be hopeful to see this feature on a beta @ wwdc07. in that same statement, i would have to include disappointment if this was one of the top secret features.

can't wait to see it. :)
 
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KingofAwesome

macrumors regular
Feb 7, 2007
209
0
I'd be interested to see what factors could be used to influence that background image. Are we talking about a visualization like what we see in iTunes (although probably slower) that takes certain events into account (like the cpu utilization, or sound output), or could it be the desktop interacting with windows on top of it (similar to the ripple effect when adding a widget to the dashboard)?

Considering Apple's love of fading reflections in things like Coverflow, I can definitely picture something similar with the desktop. I hope that if they implement it, they'll put enough effort into design so that the options we have will all be usable and really improve the experience. Apple's generally been good at giving us only a few very good choices, as opposed to MS giving users the ability to tweak everything and leaving it up to users to make sane choices.
 
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Mac-Addict

macrumors 65816
Aug 30, 2006
1,421
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London
What so you wouldnt need to wake from sleep or turn the computer on? Just press a button or move the mouse and its there? I dont really understand xD
 
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MacVault

macrumors 65816
Jun 10, 2002
1,144
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Planet Earth
What am I missing??

I guess I don't get it. What the heck is so "jarring" when logging in/out of an account in Mac OS X??? I hope this is not the kind of stuff Steve meant when he said "Top Secret Features". I hope this is not what is delaying Leopard til October. I mean, DAMN! Instead of this crap why doesn't Apple do some things that matter - like make it easy to administer a network of 10,000 Macs! Like a real competitor to Active Directory. Like really pursue the enterprise. Like work on making generic PC drivers work with OS X so I can buy a mini tower from Dell for ~$600 and run a supported version of OS X.

:mad:
 
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TheSlush

macrumors 6502a
Mar 28, 2007
658
22
New York, NY
What so you wouldnt need to wake from sleep or turn the computer on? Just press a button or move the mouse and its there? I dont really understand xD

Probably this wouldn't address actually turning the computer on and off. The screen will still have to go from black to your desktop image at some point.
 
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TheSlush

macrumors 6502a
Mar 28, 2007
658
22
New York, NY
Constantly-updating desktop?

I guess I don't get it. What the heck is so "jarring" when logging in/out of an account in Mac OS X???

My guess is that this refers to, for instance, a smoother transition between screensaver and desktop. Currently with most screensavers, it's often a quick-cut from one to the other (although I don't know if that's what one would necessarily call "jarring" per se). This new technology might allow for subtler, or more entertaining, transitions that may incorporate desktop elements.

Additionally, it could refer to a desktop that is in constant motion, or constantly reacting to user input, or constantly able to display updating information.
 
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MacVault

macrumors 65816
Jun 10, 2002
1,144
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Planet Earth
...This new technology might allow for subtler, or more entertaining, transitions that may incorporate desktop elements.

Additionally, it could refer to a desktop that is in constant motion, or constantly reacting to user input, or constantly able to display updating information.

Now that sounds like something Mac OS X needs. This would be very cool!
 
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hotdamn

macrumors 6502
Jan 24, 2007
254
0
Ottawa, ON, Canada
My guess is that this refers to, for instance, a smoother transition between screensaver and desktop. Currently with most screensavers, it's often a quick-cut from one to the other (although I don't know if that's what one would necessarily call "jarring" per se). This new technology might allow for subtler, or more entertaining, transitions that may incorporate desktop elements.

do yourself a favor and google fenetres volantes.
welcome to a year ago.
 
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Analog Kid

macrumors 603
Mar 4, 2003
6,055
5,347
Talk of picture "recipies" brought to mind Core Image-- it's Applespeak for how CI calculates pictures on the fly by passing it through a bunch of filters. It's how Aperture gets away with only storing master images and computing modified images on the fly. The patent does reference CI in the detailed description. Core Animation might figure into this too, but the patent was filed 10/05 which I think was before Core Animation was really in development, no?

A lot of talk about not having to put the background image in RAM since it can be computed on the fly. Is that really such a big deal?
 
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mobopro

macrumors newbie
Jun 24, 2003
5
0
For remote logins?

One other possibility for this patent... perhaps it's to enable remote logins. If the desktop was proceduralized enough, it'd take less bandwidth. With powerful clients taking on the burden of display, it'd mean you could have your Mac wherever you had a network connection to it.

Just a thought.
 
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Project

macrumors 68020
Aug 6, 2005
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0
time_machine.jpg


An example.
 
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longofest

Editor emeritus
Jul 10, 2003
2,875
1,532
Falls Church, VA
One other possibility for this patent... perhaps it's to enable remote logins. If the desktop was proceduralized enough, it'd take less bandwidth. With powerful clients taking on the burden of display, it'd mean you could have your Mac wherever you had a network connection to it.

Just a thought.

The patent doesn't explicitly say it, but that is a good thought!
 
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Peace

Cancelled
Apr 1, 2005
19,546
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Space The Only Frontier
This would work great for spaces/windows virtualization ;)

Each space has it's own desktop picture.Transitioning from one space to another space that has a different desktop picture.
 
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ready2switch

macrumors 6502
Apr 7, 2006
288
0
This may be either a really dumb question or a brilliant one. :p

So, when they say the transitions are too "jarring", are they referring to the user experience or to the hardware/system?

From my limited knowledge and perception, it almost sounds to me like it's something that would make these transitions smoother for the computer, with a sort of side-effect of making the screen transition more smoothly for the user.

Of course, I don't know what I'm talking about. It just seems like a waste of resources to say "the cut between desktop and screen saver just doesn't LOOK smooth enough. Let's fix it!" when there are so many other things waiting to be worked on. :p
 
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