The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has published a newly granted Apple patent that goes beyond traditional multi-touch user input. The patent describes a technology which would allow users to manipulate objects by making 3D gestures above the device’s screen.
Apple files a lot of patents and most of them are granted. Though that doesn’t necessarily mean that the technology detailed in those patents would see the light of day soon. So its always best not to form a notion that what you see in the patent is likely to be released anytime soon. This particular patent was filed in July 2012 and is titled “Working with 3D objects.” The patent describes a system that’s capable of recognizing 3D gesture input from the device’s surface and then generating a 3D object that is presented in the user interface.
The user’s fingers are detected by the device through proximity sensors and capacitive touch sensors located in the display. These sensors would effectively allow the user to take their fingers off the screen to “pull out” a 3D object from a 2D one being displayed on the device. One of the uses of this technology could be the ability to use these gestures in order to sculpt virtual materials that act as clay, or to even adjust parameters like brightness, textures, shadows etc.
There’s no saying when future Apple products, particularly tablets, will come with this technology. The patent does hint that Apple might want to push the iPad more into creative industries such as computer aided design or CAD.