Apple Working On Kinect-Like Tracking With Projected Controls

File this under cool shit we probably won't see for a long time: Apple just recently filed an expanded patent application for a system that would detect hand/head motion around a computer and let you manipulate projected image controls.

There are a whole bunch of systems at work here, and they all sound cool. Hand controls, such as gestures, would be read with the help of an infrared laser which creates a volume of space (i.e. a 3D box). Anything your hands do within that box can be read and interpreted by the computer. But aside from gestures, how would you make fine adjustments? Apple has a plan for that, too.

The patent doc also talks of a system for projecting virtual images onto surfaces (i.e. your desk) using a system of several projectors and mirrors. These images, "knobs, sliders, buttons and so forth" would be projected into the volume of space which is being monitored by the laser. You could then manipulate these controls and receive video and audio feedback (since haptic feedback would be impossible... for now...).

The third component of awesome is the glasses-free 3D. Here Apple would employ motorised head-tracking cameras, so that a good 3D image is delivered regardless of where your head is. The camera may also be able to track head or eye motion in a way that would allow you to scroll or zoom without having to use your hands at all. Sign me up for that.

Now, keep in mind this is just a patent filing and there's no telling how this could change and evolve (after all, they filed something similar not long ago). Or it could be scrapped outright. Or it could be integrated into Apple HDTV, delivering a sort of all-in-one XBox Kinectian experience (except they don't have games, yet). Besides, we know that Apple has been looking into holographic multitouch systems for a while. It seems like they are trying to sneak in late to a game where they currently have no foothold. All that said, none of the technological elements in this recent patent are really outside the realm of possibility — it's just a clever combination of things that exist today. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if they have a working prototype in Cupertino already. If you enjoy sifting through the details of patents, here ya go. [Unwired View via SlashGear]



    Copycat as usual

      Then queue Apple's Lawyers to go after Microsoft and the Kinect

    sounds like they are copying kinect....didnt they sue samsung for copying them?

    i hope they get sued for this.

    It's not a copy when you get something already done and you improve it...
    wait a minute..yes..still a copy!

    Seems a complete different usage than Kinect, what with interactive projected displays and all.

    But the setup as shown in this patent is horrendous. Mirrors and projectors everywhere? Color me unimpressed.


    Seriously guys, the concept behind kinect wasn't 'invented' by Microsoft, just as the concept of capacitive multitouch wasn't 'invented' by Apple.

    Stop with all the 'copycat' crap.

      It's more so the irony of Apple suing everyone for copying stuff they "invented"

    OMG something that senses motion connected to a TV - IT'S A COPY CAT RIP-OFF CRAPPY SH*T CRAP.

    My god, it's a patent, not a product they've released named iConnect.

    and, worst of all, it looks like they're resurrecting the lampshade iMac.

    Not as much copy, as creating patents attempting to Block existing players in the market from developing their technology along "Obvious research lines".

    Remember that for a patent to be Defensible it must incorporate some Novel aspect, not obvious to "One versed in the art".

    SO now if Microsoft were to incorporate a laser scanner in the kinect, to augment the accuracy of the cameras, unless they already have patents to cover that, Apple sill throw up injunctions immediately it comes to market.

    The good thing, is that if this patent is not applied in a marketable form within 20 years it becomes open season.

    Often it is the lapse in patents that allows a technology to be used, that 20 year lag (between invention and use) is not for no reason, and it is rarely to the inventor's advantage, for some reason, while there was a licence fee to pay, noone wanted to come up with the money to pursue the invention..

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