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  • Apple Awarded Patent to Bring Star Trek to Your Living Room



    Apple was awarded 13 new patents today by the US Patent and Trademark Office and one—if it can ever be fully realized and brought to market—could change the way we interact with our computing devices forever.

    The patent raising the most eyebrows describes a "3D Display and Imaging System" straight out of Star Trek. The system creates an invisible space in front of the user that contains holographic images the user can interact with, or a screen on which the users hands are projected and can then interact with objects in the virtual space. The technology that Apple plans to implement appears incredibly versatile and incredibly complex.

    Imagine being able to project any type of virtual space into a room, being able to interact with it, and allowing developers to have free reign to come up with new ways to utilize the technology via The App Store. One of the more interesting possibilities Apple outlines is an advanced 3D paint application that allows users to create 3D objects in the holographic space and manipulate the created objects.

    Both hands could be used to perform point and selection functions. For example, the index finger of the left hand could be used to point to certain locations inside the imaging volume or space, while the index finger of the right hand could be used to select those locations as vertices (e.g., by pressing a virtual button corresponding to a button image). During all these operations, the auxiliary display function would be providing immediate feedback. The right hand could also be used to select other functions, such as filling the 3D shape with a certain color or manipulating the shape by moving the vertices, or rotating or relocating (displacing) the shape, and so forth.
    How all of this technology is supposed to work is mind bogglingly complex, but previous patents for holographic imaging systems, and the existence of this patent suggests that whatever magic is going on in Apple's labs is progressing rather well. The biggest hurdles appear to be figuring out how keep track of the user and register their movements and position in space in order to allow them to interact with the projected objects. Every person looks different, and wears different clothes, so tracking people with more than a simple camera can be quite difficult as different materials and color react to light differently.

    However, what is known is that the proposed tech will work through iOS devices like iPads, iPhone,s and Apple TV, enhancing the "user experience" and "extending the display capability" or the aforementioned devices. How novel an idea, but it appears this technology will outgrow simply being a display extender. The technology's inventor, Apple's Christoph Krah, admits that during the development of the technology a number of unforeseen uses for the technology appeared. If the creators themselves are discovering new ways to utilize this incredible display and input system past what they set out to accomplish, the amount of innovation that could happen at the hands of a fresh pair of eyes is exciting.

    Reading through the patent, the question has arisen from other writers of whether or not Microsoft's Kinect is infringing upon the patent described above. I would venture that it does not. Apple's patent describes interacting in a 3D space, with projected 3D images and at it's core is a new display system. Kinect at its heart is an interaction device. Kinect is an incredibly capable controller, Apple's looks to create a virtual environment.

    iPhone 7 anyone?

    Source: Patently Apple
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple Awarded Patent for 3D Display and Imaging System, Somehow Makes Kinect Simple started by Phillip Swanson View original post
    Comments 17 Comments
    1. powello18's Avatar
      powello18 -
      Sounds awesome
      But power consumption? Hard to imagine this running on a battery, at least one of today's.
    1. Lombardo Joe's Avatar
      Lombardo Joe -
      I've got a feeling this patent might run out before it's ever even produced... But still... I'm really happy Apple's the type of company that really looks to the 'holy crap' technology of the future and not just concerned with stuff like 4G phones and other daily topics.
    1. RICO_'s Avatar
      RICO_ -
      Meh.
    1. The Man of Sand's Avatar
      The Man of Sand -
      I would love this, it would make it much easier to re-enact starwars
    1. iLoveWindows&iPhone's Avatar
      iLoveWindows&iPhone -
      Anyone else notice that the left hand in the picture looks like a werewolf hand?? Perhaps Apple believes our hands will have evolved by the time this technology is ready for the public.
    1. Paco's Avatar
      Paco -
      I've seen a video about a possible prototype of the ip5 and it had this feature. I kno that the prototype in the video won't be the ip5 but it did look cool
    1. baskie's Avatar
      baskie -
      Genuinely interested in developing future tech? Or stockpiling patents to stop others?

      Apple are quickly becoming the schoolyard bully, more interested in restricting others than competing on a level playing field.

      I guess that's what happens when you have more money than everyone else put together!
    1. kuhndsn's Avatar
      kuhndsn -
      Quote Originally Posted by baskie View Post
      Genuinely interested in developing future tech? Or stockpiling patents to stop others?

      Apple are quickly becoming the schoolyard bully, more interested in restricting others than competing on a level playing field.

      I guess that's what happens when you have more money than everyone else put together!
      Interesting post. However, if you have an idea/invention it's smart to
      Patent it. Or....run the risk of someone veering you to the table and collecting $ on all your hard work.
    1. <(O)> Device's Avatar
      <(O)> Device -
      This would be pretty fricken cool to see in the next decade
    1. baskie's Avatar
      baskie -
      Quote Originally Posted by kuhndsn View Post
      Interesting post. However, if you have an idea/invention it's smart to
      Patent it. Or....run the risk of someone veering you to the table and collecting $ on all your hard work.
      Having an idea and having an invention are two very different things.
    1. Eagleye's Avatar
      Eagleye -
      Too bad Robert Downey Jr. already has this tech in his basement... and it's way cooler than Apple's silly patent.
    1. hapishyguy's Avatar
      hapishyguy -
      Lets sue apple for stealing an idea from star trek just like it sued Galaxy that it looks same as iPad. Seriously, patenting in US is becoming a joke now. I was reading an article that someone from some south america side named the sun on her name and how is planning to get a cut form the companies that are using sun's power. So stupid! But hey, if you have enough money to bribe like Apple do then you can probably win this case too.
    1. <(O)> Device's Avatar
      <(O)> Device -
      We should all just live long and prosper and not sue anyone about anything.
    1. bmh19's Avatar
      bmh19 -
      Quote Originally Posted by hapishyguy View Post
      Lets sue apple for stealing an idea from star trek just like it sued Galaxy that it looks same as iPad. Seriously, patenting in US is becoming a joke now. I was reading an article that someone from some south america side named the sun on her name and how is planning to get a cut form the companies that are using sun's power. So stupid! But hey, if you have enough money to bribe like Apple do then you can probably win this case too.

      Right on brother, and while we are at it George Orwell's (Eric Arthur Blair for the pretentious a-holes) estate should sue for the creation of the tv as well as for facetime. These lawsuits could go on forever. The reality is that most of your smartest engineers can create anything they see but can't walk and chew gum at the same time let alone have the fantasy to come up with some of this stuff. It is classic left side vs right side of the brain. Heck the guy who created the first Midi file at apple and was also later on the team for the ipod said he got the idea when watching a start trek the next gen episode. Didn't davinci attempt to create the first helicopter? Is Bell paying any royalties on that?

      Our society is way too litigious. Patents need to be protected but when companies like apple become patent trolls they lose focus on innovation and become what microsoft has been since XP-windows 7 (maybe 8 will be different)
    1. andypropaganda's Avatar
      andypropaganda -
      Anyone mind explaining the difference between this and the Kinect?

      Obviously if this thing displayed holograms in the middle of the room it'll be different, but if it just puts interactable objects on the screen then I don't really see the point of all the hype except that it'll be Apple doing it.

      Quote Originally Posted by baskie View Post
      Genuinely interested in developing future tech? Or stockpiling patents to stop others?

      Apple are quickly becoming the schoolyard bully, more interested in restricting others than competing on a level playing field.

      I guess that's what happens when you have more money than everyone else put together!
      The patent system in the United States was recently revamped so that you have to be working on / developing the actually product, or at least trying. You can no longer patent ideas and sit on the them, i.e. no more patent trolling.
    1. Breezer23's Avatar
      Breezer23 -
      Watch out Captain Picard! Apple is coming. Hire some lawyers.

      Secondly, how the hell can Microsoft be infringing on one of these patents? Kinect was out far earlier than this patent was ever approved. Screw the patent system. Absolutely retarded.

      Lastly, Microsoft and Apple have different goals in mind when they sue. Microsoft likes to sue with the idea of receiving royalties from the success of said product (leech?). Apple's goal is to shut the other down entirely.
    1. unison999's Avatar
      unison999 -
      Apple can awarded the patents, but as long as you can bring up something that does similar things (idea in a movie) Apple's patent will not hold up in court. Only thing this patent can do is deter small companies innovate and come up with actual product because of the threat of lawsuit from Apple with only an unoriginal idea and no product.