On Christmas day 2014 the U.S. Patent and Trademark office reveals one of PrimeSense's key technologies relating to a 3D sensing device that is operated using a unique in-air gesturing system and user interface. The technology found its way into Microsoft's Kinect. The system could one day find its way into Apple TV and future Macs.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 noted in our cover graphic is a schematic, pictorial illustration of a non-tactile zoom-based interface (also referred to as the zoom-based interface) for operation by a user of a computer or television.
Apple's patent filing notes that "ZoomGrid" mechanisms can be used to control television channel selection (i.e., "surfing" and/or "zapping" channels) as one application for this technology.
In a ZoomGrid channel surfing system all of the channels can be organized on a two-dimensional ZoomGrid surface. If the user is viewing a certain channel and wants to look for an alternative channel, the user starts pulling at the ZoomGrid surface (e.g., by perform a Grab gesture followed by a Pull gesture) revealing additional channels that surround the channel currently being viewed. As the user pulls or pushes the ZoomGrid, the TV can reveal additional channels. When the user identifies an interesting channel, the user can start pulling back on the ZoomGrid surface in order to select the channel.
The patent figure to the right in our cover graphic is one relating to a user viewing movie categories on a television screen much like the view using iTunes. In the future, we might be able to use our hand gestures to control on-screen activities instead of a physical remote control.
Just how much of this PrimeSense patent will eventually find its way into a future version of Apple TV or even Macs is unknown at this time. To review the detailing of Apple's acquired patent, see patent application 20140380241. You could also take a look at a few other PrimeSense patents that Apple has acquired here which includes an advanced version of today's patent application.
Apple's FIG. 9 below is an schematic illustration of a tree data structure that the computer or TV system can present as a series of hierarchical ZoomGrid surfaces.
Apple's patent FIG. 5 is a flow diagram that schematically illustrates a method of selecting a given on-screen interactive item from the two-dimensional grid.
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