Apple Patents 3D Head-Tracking

By

post-23677-image-ae3aff90407572116d35c05ce100092c-jpg

Apple has filed a patent application that might replace today’s mouse and keyboard with a 3D display created through tracking your head movements. The technology could permit more realistic interaction with a computer’s data or map your image onto an object.

The technology would hinge on a camera or “sensing mechanism,” according to the Apple patent recently filed.


“Using the detected position of the user, the electronic device may use any suitable approach to transform the perspective of three-dimensional objects” displayed, according to the patent application. The proposed technology could also place reflections on certain objects, such as plastic, brushed metal and even rounded surfaces.

Such an idea is not new. In 2007, Carnegie Mellon University student Johnny Chung created a simple head tracking device from a Nintendo Wii remote controller. A video of the device in action, adjusting a display based on a user’s position, was viewed 7.6 million times on YouTube.

In 2009, word leaked out Apple rival Microsoft was working on a similar concept for its Xbox 360 gaming console. The controller, codenamed “Project Natal,” was said to use body movements, rather than a conventional controller, to direct games.

Apple already has a sort of virtual reality or 3D experience for iPhone owners called augmented reality. The applications use the iPhone 3GS’ autofocus camera and built-in compass to detect the direction the phone is pointing and obtain the user’s face.

This latest patent is the first attempt by Apple to find an alternative to the mouse and keyboard. In 2008, the Cupertino, Calif. company outlined a patent for display hardware able to produce 3D images without requiring a special helmet or glasses. The same year, Apple also considered a “Multidimensional Desktop” for Mac OS X.

Apple has also filed a patent application for a “intelligent power management method” aimed at alerting iPod users to the battery life remaining in their devices. The technology would determine how much battery is required to play a video clip or song and then adjust power settings.

[Patently Apple via AppleInsider and Engadget]