On March 20, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a new patent application of Apple's that reveals they're working on a next generation 3D Holographic-like display system. In one application, Apple's display system would automatically authenticate a user, greet them and provide a customized desktop for just that user. Something along the lines of how new computer car systems will adjust the seat and controls for a particular driver. The Holographic-like displays are based on a projection system and in many cases the impression given is that these systems would apply to applications as diverse as video conferencing, scientific modeling, entertainment and perhaps even forensics. Think of the TV show "Bones" and their use of a device called holographic "angelator." One of the unique aspects of this invention is that users won't be hassled with 3D glasses or headgear of any kind.
On March 13, the US Patent & Trademark Office published two of Apple's patent applications pertaining to Cover Flow being used on an iPod classic and iPhone. The patent illustrates Apple’s calendar, address book, iPhoto and other applications being accessed on an iPod-like device in varying ways. Some methods include Apple’s touch screen technology on a classic iPod as well as using both a click wheel and/or touch pad. One of the 3D effects presented in the patent is rather cool. In light of the Microsoft patent that I presented yesterday, the timing of Apple’s updated Cover Flow patent for portables is more interesting than ever.
Apple’s 2004 developer conference welcomed attendees with signs stating "Redmond, we have a problem" and "Redmond, start your photocopiers." Well, Apple called it right again as it appears that Redmond is about to copy Apple’s Cover Flow concept for data. Microsoft has applied for a patent covering a similar concept involving stacking data wheels. Microsoft’s primary market focus for this concept is the mobile space: cell phones, their Zune MP3 player, PDA’s and so forth. Yet I wouldn’t count out a version for their "Live" interface that’s a part of their Xbox 360. Their wheels UI feature is noted as being a part of the Windows Live mobile UI and will be integrated to work with common mobile applications such mail, calendar, contact lists, instant messaging, note taking, multimedia messaging, web search and other applications including web widgets.