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Apple Granted their Seventh 3D Depth Mapping Patent for 2015

20. Granted Patents -


As far as granted patents go, Apple has done well with their PrimeSense acquisition by gaining a minimum of seven patents over the last six months alone covering all facets of 3D depth scanning and beyond. In April we covered Apple's 3D related patent covering "Depth Mapping with Enhanced Resolution." Today's granted patent is an extension of that patent under the title "Upper-Body Skeleton Extraction from Depth Maps." Apple's other 2015 granted patents regarding 3D Depth mapping from PrimeSense could be found here: one, two, three, four and five.


Granted Patent: Upper-Body Skeleton Extraction from Depth Maps


Apple's newly granted patent covers their invention relating to methods and systems for three-dimensional (3D) mapping and specifically to processing of 3D map data.


More specifically, Apple's newly granted patent covers a a method for processing data, which includes receiving a depth map of a scene containing at least an upper body of a humanoid form. The depth map includes a matrix of pixels having respective pixel depth values. Using a digital processor, the depth map is processed so as to identify a head and at least one arm of the humanoid form in the depth map. Based on the identified head and at least one arm, and without reference to a lower body of the humanoid form, an upper-body pose, including at least three-dimensional (3D) coordinates of shoulder joints of the humanoid form, is extracted from the depth map.


The upper-body pose may be found while the humanoid form in the depth map is seated, or standing.


Processing the depth map includes locating one or more ridges in the depth map corresponding to parts of the humanoid form, each ridge corresponding to a chain of the pixels whose respective depth values are local minima. Additionally or alternatively, processing the depth map includes locating depth edges in the depth map corresponding to parts of the humanoid form, and associating arcuate depth edges found in the depth map with the head and with a hand of the form. Further additionally or alternatively, extracting the upper-body pose includes finding 3D medial axes of the head and the at least one arm in the depth map, and finding the upper-body pose that includes estimated positions of the head and the at least one arm that satisfy constraints of a predefined body model while minimizing an error between the 3D medial axes and the estimated positions.


The parameters and changes of the pose can serve as a simplified input to application programs running on computerized systems, enabling such systems to respond to users' gestures. The capability of these embodiments to extract the upper-body pose without reference to the lower body of the humanoid form is particularly useful in remote control and other applications in which the user may be seated.



Apple's patent FIG. 1 is a schematic, pictorial illustration of a system for 3D mapping of humanoid forms; FIG. 3 is a flow chart that schematically illustrates a method for extracting an upper-body skeleton of a humanoid form from a depth map.


Apple credits Amiad Gurman and Oren Tropp as the inventors of granted patent 9,047,507 which was originally filed in Q2 2012 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.


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