Very early this morning, Gus Sentementes of the Baltimore Sun contacted me about a patent that he had discovered about a 3D interface from Apple. In his report, he assigns the technology to Apple's rumored tablet. Not that the technology couldn't pertain to a tablet, because it most certainly could, but indirectly. The patent in question never uses the term tablet as Apple has in many instances including one reported on today in a granted patent report. The new patent in question, credits Fabrice Robinet, Thomas Goossens and Alexandre Moha of France. The catch here of course is that Alexandre Moha is Product & Engineering Manager at Apple. So there's no doubt that it's an Apple patent and there's equally no doubt that the patent places emphasis on a 3D interface coming to Apple's media players -the iPhone specifically. Although the patent figures don't go into as much detail as another recent 3D patent from Apple, there's no doubt that this patent advances and confirms that this is a direction that Apple is taking their media players in the future. Equally important, in my view, is that this patent points to a new unique camera built into a future iPhone that will allow the user to rotate the position of the optical sensor within the iPhone's housing so that a single optical sensor could be used for both video conferencing and still and/or video image acquisition. Turn the camera out for pictures and turn the camera in for video conferencing. That may end up really being the magic to this patent.
An Overview of the Multifunctional Device(s)
Unique Video Conferencing iPhone Camera
In some embodiments, an optical sensor is located on the front of the device so that the user's image may be obtained for videoconferencing while the user views the other video conference participants on the touch screen display. In some embodiments, the position of the optical sensor could be changed by the user (e.g., by rotating the lens and the sensor in the device housing) so that a single optical sensor (164) may be used along with the touch screen display for both video conferencing and still and/or video image acquisition.
The touch screen may use LCD (liquid crystal display) technology or LPD (light emitting polymer display) technology. An example of this technology may be described here in context with polymer organinc light emitting diodes (P-OLEDs).
Exemplary 3D UI Examples
Apple's patent figures that are shown below in Graphics A and B illustrate exemplary user interfaces for navigating in a three-dimensional virtual space and manipulating three-dimensional virtual objects in the virtual space in accordance with some embodiments.
The Patent's 3D Definition
As used herein, a "three-dimensional" virtual object means that the virtual object appears to have a length, width, and depth when displayed on the two-dimensional touch screen display.
In some embodiments, the first three-dimensional virtual object 504 is an icon (6012). In some embodiments, the first three-dimensional virtual object is a virtual game object (6014). In some embodiments, the first three-dimensional virtual object is a virtual game character (6016).
For example, if the first three-dimensional virtual object is a game object, the device executes a predefined command associated with the game object, such as moving the game object in the three-dimensional virtual space.
Note: To enlarge a number of graphics in this report, click on them once, wait, and then click again to see the graphics at their largest. No - you can't double click to get the same effect.
3D Flow Diagrams
Apple patent FIGS. 6A, B, E and L are shown below in four distinct graphics marked 1 to 4. They represent flow diagrams illustrating method 6000 of navigating in a three-dimensional virtual space and manipulating three-dimensional virtual objects in the virtual space in accordance with some embodiments.
In some embodiments, method 6000 is performed on a portable multifunction device with a touch screen display. In some embodiments, the portable electronic device is a multifunction device with a game application. In some embodiments, the touch screen display is a projected mutual capacitive touch screen display.
Method 6000 provides an efficient and intuitive way for a user to navigate in a three-dimensional virtual space and manipulate three-dimensional virtual objects in the virtual space with simple finger gestures.
Odds and Ends
The patent states that "it should be understood, however, that some of the user interfaces and associated processes may be applied to other devices, such as personal computers and laptop computers." It's not a stretch to include a tablet, but caution that it's not included in the patent's verbiage.
The device supports a variety of applications, such as one or more of the following: a game application, a telephone application, a video conferencing application, an e-mail application, an instant messaging application, a blogging application, a photo management application, a digital camera application, a digital video camera application, a web browsing application, a digital music player application, and/or a digital video player application.
In some embodiments, the device is a portable communications device such as a mobile telephone that also contains other functions, such as PDA and/or music player functions. In fact, the patent spends a lot of time on this in respect to the technology of the phone etc.
Today's patent report is derived from patent application 20090303231 published on December 10, 2009 and originally filed in Q3 2008. However, it should be noted that this patent borrows from numerous listed patents with dates going back as far as 2003.
Notice: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of patents with associated graphic(s) for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application and/or grant is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application and/or grant should be read in its entirety for further details. For additional information on any patent reviewed here today, simply feed the individual patent number noted above into this search engine.