Apple Patents Kinect-Esque 3D Input For Mac

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In a new patent published by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office, entitled “Three-Dimensional Imaging and Display System” this week, Apple describes a future system it is currently exploring which could eventually be used for desktop Macs.

The control method, (which is similar to the technology found in Microsoft’s own ‘Kinect’ gaming accessory, would allow users to control and interact with the Mac without physically having to come into contact with it or its main peripherals – (i.e. Keyboard, mouse).

How the technology would work is pretty straightforward. Using optical scanning technology to pinpoint the place in which the users hands (or fingers) are placed in front of the display, Apple describes then being able to control a desktop user environment, (such as the one on its iMac), with the use of gestures and finger actions made in thin air.

Apple’s solution would optically detect a user’s hands and fingertips and measure their movements. In this manner, users could use their hands to control a Mac without the need for a mouse or keyboard.

In its application, Apple notes that current computer input devices like the mouse allow users to control a system in two dimensions, along the ‘X’ axis and ‘Y’ axis. But when manipulating objects in three dimensions, input methods like a joystick or mouse can be cumbersome.

Highlighting that because of this there is still a need for “highly effective 3D input devices” for desktop computers, Apple notes that “Such devices need to be able to detect, analyze and measure objects located in a 3D volume, and to observe and track any motions thereof.”

This “hands-off” approach of computing is not a new idea. In fact, the technology has been the central focus of science-fiction movies for decades gone by – (Minority Report, to name just one). The difference here is, with Microsoft’s Kinect console accessory already proving that the input method can work for every-day use, and Apple currently thought to be working on television-sized product, (with possible computing capabilities), the finding could indicate that this envisioned world that many of us have in mind when thinking about what life will be like in the future, could actually become reality in the next several years.

[via AppleInsider]

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