In a new patent just published by the US Patent and Trademark Office, Apple has described a future system for controlling Macs using body language and gesturing, much like the Xbox 360’s Kinect. But frankly, if any Apple product is likely to use motion control, it’s the rumored iTV.
Apple envisions a user interface that would allow a person to more naturally use their hands and fingertips to control a device. An accompanying display could show knobs, sliders and buttons that a user could virtually manipulate in a three-dimensional space.
In one image accompanying the application, a user is shown using both of their hands to select inputs on an iMac. With their left hand, the user is twisting a virtual knob, while on the right hand, their index finger is being used to press a button.
The system would aid the user with on-screen visual cues, allowing them to more easily manipulate objects on the screen. For example, Apple’s system includes a virtual representation of the user’s hand displayed on the screen of the iMac.
This is very interesting, but what’s the point of using motion control to operate a machine sitting within arm’s length? There’s a reason why the Kinect is a game console peripheral, and that’s because it solves a problem distinct to the living room: how do you control a computer that is across the room, tethered to your TV?
Before he died, Steve Jobs said he had “cracked” the television control problem. My belief is that if Apple releases a so-called iTV at all, it’ll be controlled using a combination of an iPad/iPhone, Siri and just maybe this Kinect-like patent technology. We’ll see..