New Apple Patent Confirms Its Work On 3D iOS Devices



A new Apple patent published this week by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office confirms that the company has been working on introducing 3D to our iOS devices. However, it may not be the glasses-free 3D technology we’ve already seen from devices like the Nintendo 3DS and the HTC EVO 3D.

Instead, Apple’s invention uses your device’s front-facing camera to track the position of your eyes and the location of light.

Patently Apple, who discovered the filing, notes the technology could work alongside previous Apple inventions based on head tracking and ambient light technologies. It uses a number of the sensors built into your device — such as the compass, accelerometer, and GPS — to create a “3D frame of reference” for the device.

Once it has that frame of reference, the device could then track the position of a user’s eyes using its front-facing camera to provide a 3D effect to the objects displayed on its screen, which would automatically react to movements in front of the camera.

Patently Apple notes that using this technique, Apple could employ a number of different 3D effects. For example, it could place realistic shadows around objects within its user interface that respond to a user’s movements, shifting the shadows around as you move your head.

Alternatively, it could create a “virtual 3D operating system environment,” the filing reads, which would allow a user to “look around” the interface on their display — as though the screen was a window into a world of 3D objects.

The technology may not stop at mobile devices, either:

Using this data, it would then be possible to depict a realistic 21/2D or 3D operating system environment mode, e.g., through putting shines on windows, title bars, and other UI objects, as well as having them move in response to the motion of the user’s eyes or the changing position of the user’s head. Further, it would also be possible to use the position of the user’s head and eyes to allow the user to “look under” a window after the user shifts his or her head to the side and/or moves his or her head towards the display.

It all sounds very cool, but will Apple’s system be accurate enough to provide a usable 3D effect? I can imagine by using the front-facing camera, other objects could be picked up in the background that might pass as eyes, providing the user with a very odd looking user interface.

Of course, this patent doesn’t mean this method will definitely be employed by Apple, or that iOS devices will ever get 3D capabilities at all. But it’s interesting to know Apple is certainly working on it.

Would you like a 3D iPhone? Or do you think 3D is just unnecessary on a smartphone?

  • FriarNurgle

    3D is dumb. 

  • Skywaytraffic

    3D is unnecessary in anything but real life. I hate this awful 3D tech fad.

  • Steve LeVine

    Once again, headline is not necessarily accurate and could be misleading. Just because Apple or any company (or individual) files a patent doesn’t mean they are working on anything. A file for a patent is simply documenting what is believed to be a unique idea, method or product.
    Good companies like Apple file for patents to protect intellectual property regardless if they ever act upon it.
    To say otherwise without proof or documentation is irresponsible.

  • sn0wball

    when apple does it, it’ll be the shit. btw, i dont think this is 3d glasses type, i believe this to be a more interactive room to room like ios experience.

  • iDaveG

    i3D on my  iMac, iPad, iPhone, iDontThinkSo #Apple

    If this happens then I will not buy new products – But don’t get moist FanDroids cause I def not buy Android products.

  • Jeremy Zipzer

    Whenever Apple designs or improves on a product in an existing market, they do so with authority and immense success; largely because previous products in the existing field are made poorly and without much thought on user-experience. Obviously the 3D aspect leaves much to be desired, but for Apple, this could be a huge opportunity to revolutionize the 3D world. I’m not a fan of 3D as of right now, but if Apple were to create something with 3D capabilities, you can be sure it will be well thought out, and five steps ahead of what would be existing competition. 

  • Lucy W & Tris B

    Similar to this tech from a little while back ….

  • makemoneyinlife

    great article, I’m glad for this thing, and I would like 3D on my smartphone.

  • D

    I disagree. The 3D tech now is a joke and I am not a fan of. But I believe 3D is the future. I mean what technology started off as perfect? None. They are invented and from there on, they are improved more and more until they are great. And if anyone can make 3D great, its apple. 3D tech + Kinnect tech = first steps into virtual reality