Apple Patents 3D Gesture Controls

Updated on

According to new report, the tech giant has patented 3D gesture controls, as seen in the movie ‘Minority Report.’

The patent, No. 8933876, is related to “three dimensional user interface session control.” In simple terms this means that a camera is used to track the movements of a user in three dimensions, and that movement is subsequently used to control an on-screen user interface.

Potential applications

Accompanying diagrams from the patent illustrate the new technology controlling a desktop computer, but there is nothing to stop the technology being used with iOS devices or Apple TV. Samsung already uses “Air Gestures” to control some of its smartphones.

There are other existing products which use gesture controls, such as in the Microsoft Xbox Kinect or Samsung smart TVs, but as online magazine DVICE wrote, for Samsung “the reality was the feature just didn’t work very well.”

However fierce rival Apple has a good record of putting their own interpretation on existing products, and making them a resounding success. According to Rob Price of Business Insider, a perfect example is the tablet market, which was not taken very seriously prior to the release of the iPad. In 2014, tablet sales reached approximately 235 million.

Will it become reality?

Apple files a huge number of patents, the majority of which never become real products. Some are used simply to obstruct market rivals from using similar technology in their products, or to involve them in long, drawn-out legal proceedings if they do stray too close to the patented technology. However in this case it would seem Apple is genuinely interested in using the patent.

One sign that Apple is serious about developing the technology is its 2013 buyout of Israeli startup PrimeSense, which cost it around $540 million. PrimeSense was previously responsible for helping Microsoft developing its Kinect technology, and last month one of its patents was transferred to Apple.

If Apple can improve on existing versions of the technology then we could see 3D gesture controls become more reliable and widespread.




Leave a Comment