Apple Hints at Future 3D-Capable iPhones in New Patent Applications
If you're among the crowd who feels it's never too early to think about a next generation iPhone, you're going to love this. Of course, if last month's release of the iPhone 4 is still too fresh (or too frustrating) in your memory to even contemplate a 5th generation iPhone, I can understand that as well. Nonetheless, some clues may have surfaced about a new attribute headed for a future generation iPhone.
According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple has filed two patent applications for features that would allow a future iPhone to capture both video and still pictures and then acquire from that digital content the information needed to render an object (in the video or photo) in 3D. The result? The creation of a world of 3D imagery within your own virtual environment.
But how would it all work? Well, based on the information gleaned from one of the two patent applications (and corresponding diagrams), it appears that the iPhone will ultimately capture more than just photos and videos. That is, when capturing such content, the device may also employ everything from GPS to motion sensors in order to generate the aforementioned three-dimensional rendering of the your surroundings.
The other application ("Three Dimensional Navigation Using Deterministic Movement of an Electronic Device") takes this concept further by addressing how one can do more than just record images or video in 3D. Instead, this patent application contends with actually navigating a 3D space and enabling recording for future playback.
From the patent: "By walking with the device in the user's real environment, a user can virtually navigate a representation of a three-dimensional environment. In some embodiments, a user can record an object or environment using an electronic device, and tag the recorded images or video with movement information describing the movement of the device during the recording. The recorded information can then be processed with the movement information to generate a three-dimensional model of the recorded environment or object."
Of course, one could debate just how practical or useful such technologies would prove on a forthcoming iPhone update. But Apple has clearly endeavored to make the iPhone and all future generations more than just a smartphone. If so, these 3D escapades could certainly add another unique "dimension" - pun intended - to the iPhone's arsenal of futuristic attributes.