Earlier today Patently Apple reported that Xiaomi's Hugo Barra had joined Facebook to lead their Virtual Reality Business. Barra was a great communicator whilst at Google and many will remember his vibrant keynotes. This is likely what Zuckerberg wanted for their VR business; a great communicator who has connections with the Android developer community. The Reuters report noted that "Facebook had been working to make VR work on smartphones." When I read that I instantly thought of Facebook partnering with Samsung as they did on the Gear VR headset. But I was curious to see if Facebook was still working on a smartphone that was rumored years ago.
Indeed a patent was recently granted to Facebook regarding 3D gesturing on smartphones and tablets. Like Google, Facebook may want to own this feature and promote it on a Facebook banded smartphone. This is of course is another strength of Hugo Barra's being that he worked hard to advance the Xiaomi brand in China, India and other locations. Their growth was too fast at Xiaomi and they lost control of that business. But with Facebook's finances and organization, Barra could have a field day knowing that he has the backing to move quickly without any financial restraints to worry about.
Facebook's patent that Patently Apple discovered earlier today describes their 3D gesture system starting with the smartphone's camera being used to determine a distance and angle of an object. The system can incorporating one or more touch input devices, proximity sensors, or cameras may determine a location and movement of an object touching or at a distance away from the system's surface based on measurements of the object by the touch input devices, proximity sensors, or cameras (e.g., by using triangulation techniques). By continuously monitoring the touch input devices, proximity sensors, or cameras, the system may determine a three-dimensional trajectory of a moving object based on measurements of the object by the touch input devices, proximity sensors, or cameras.
A user may provide inputs to the system by performing three-dimensional gestures. For example, a three-dimensional gesture may be the user's fingertip touching a front surface of the system and then pulling away from the front surface. When detecting such a three-dimensional user input, the system may determine a three-dimensional trajectory (e.g., of the user's fingertip), and determine if the three-dimensional trajectory corresponds to one or more three-dimensional gestures.
The system may comprise a three-dimensional gesture library containing three-dimensional input modules or computer program code for calculating and interpreting three-dimensional input trajectories (detected by the touch input devices, proximity sensors, or cameras) to three-dimensional gestures. A program running on the system can detect and process three-dimensional gestures by subscribing as listeners to the three-dimensional input modules in the three-dimensional gesture library.
Facebook's patent FIG. 4A noted above illustrates an example of a three-dimensional gesture. In particular, it's an example of a three-dimensional trajectory of a pulling gesture. As illustrated by the arrow of FIG. 4A, a three-dimensional trajectory of the pulling gesture may start at a first location (401) on a particular surface of the computing device (e.g., the back side of mobile device 200), and end at an end point (402) at a distance from the particular surface of the computing device. This disclosure contemplates any suitable surface of the computing device where a pulling gesture starts.
In Patent FIG. 4D, the user may perform a movement distant from and across the touch screen toward a second location #422 of the touch screen and perform a dropping gesture on the touch screen at second location as illustrated by the star in FIG. 4F.
Facebook filed for this patent back in 2014 and was granted patent 9,535,596 earlier this month for 3D Gestures.
It appears that this 3D gesturing trend is something on many tech companies' minds of late. 3D gesturing can also be understood in some ways as in-air gesturing, something that Apple and Microsoft won patents for themselves this week. 3D depth cameras are needed for this type of gesturing and Apple's PrimeSense is the leader in this field having Microsoft's Kinect product to prove it works.
With Facebook entering the gadgets business with the Oculus Rift and corresponding wireless game controllers (that they won a patent for in November 2016), a Facebook branded smartphone may be the next gadget we'll see come to market with 3D gesturing as it's differentiating feature along with high-end VR.
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