Apple brought touchscreen technology to the masses, but a recent patent suggests they may be moving into a whole new domain of computer interaction. However, Apple may actually be a little behind the curve on this one, as the technology appears to be heavily inspired by Xbox’s Kinect platform, which revolutionized the gaming industry last year.
The patent, titled Three-dimensional imaging and display system, describes a system where user input is detected optically using combinations of several devices, such as a collimated high-speed infrared or visible laser, a high-speed photo detector, and a dual axis scanning device and driver circuit. The system would be used to track hand gestures and head movements, allowing the user to interact with the computer in three-dimensional space as opposed to the two dimensions typically afforded by a mouse or touchscreen.
According to the patent,
[quote]A need thus remains for uncomplicated, economical, yet highly effective 3D input devices for computers. Such devices need to be able to detect, analyze, and measure objects located in a 3D volume, and to observe and track any motions thereof. The devices should therefore be well suited and designed compatibly for use with 3D graphically intensive activities. They need to be capable of operating by optically sensing object or human positions, orientations, and/or motions. For reasons of cost as well as user convenience, they should be compact and capable of incorporation into a simple, small, single housing or unit. They also need to be versatile, and thus capable of working effectively and beneficially with the full range of conventional consumer appliances.[/quote]
The described system can apparently accomplish this not only highly effectively but also economically. In addition, the system is compatible with a wide range of devices, its small, compact form allows it to be portable and energy efficient, and it will reduce clutter since there would no longer be a need for keyboards and other peripherals.
Source: Unwired View