Apple Wants Your iMac (And Maybe Your Future iTV) To Use Kinect-Like Motion Control Tech

Apple Wants Your iMac (And Maybe Your Future iTV) To Use Kinect-Like Motion Control Tech

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.

AppleInsider reports:

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.

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  • Adrian Werner

    How can they attempt patenting something Microsoft’s been doing for years?

  • Paul Lloyd Johnson

    When will you stop referring to an iTV, when it will be an AppleTV?

  • Brandon Dillon

    We don’t know what it will be at this point.

  • Paul Lloyd Johnson

    But we know for sure it won’t be iTV.

  • TradeGothicBold

    You never know what it may be called.  Remember, another company had the patent on the name “iPhone”, but if Apple wants the name, they will buy it.  iTV COULD be the name.  

    I hunted down the patent in question on another site, and the image used shows an iMac G4.  Either this is an old patent that just got brought into light, or someone at Apple got a wee bit lazy on the presentation to the USPO.  I’m betting it’s the latter.

  • CharliK

    Actually we do. 

    The whole iPhone thingwas a company that was in the 23rd hour of being able to renew the trademark they hadn’t been using for like 3 years after buying it from another company, so much so that a Judge saw through their last minute announcement of a new phone as merely trying to block Apple and forced them to share the name. 

    In the iTV case, it’s a trademark name for one of the largest networks in Britain which is still very much in business as it has been for like the last 10 years. And Apple admitted knowing this and that they had zero intentions of even pushing the question of same market by using a similar name. Something that was reported in detail on this very site

  • CharliK

    You assume first that anyone else has patented it, especially Microsoft. Or that this is the exact same thing. 

    Patents can actually be given on ‘vast improvements’ to existing items. Especially if the existing item is one of those vague idea based patents that used to be given out hand over fist in the ’80s and 90s

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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