Apple Wins Key Patent for an In-Air Gesture Recognition System for a Future 3D UI for Controlling Various Devices
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple 59 newly granted patents today. In this granted patent report we cover Apple's patent relating to an optical projection and imaging apparatus that generates a 3D map or profile of objects. More importantly, it's designed to control a future 3D UI.
In patent figure 1 above, Apple notes that 3D maps may be used by a host computer, such as an iMac, as part of a 3D user interface, which enables the user to interact with games and other applications running on the computer and with elements shown on a display screen.
Our cover graphic is from yesterday's granted patent #10,345,684 from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office which was originally filed in 2015. The invention dates back to 2011.
This granted patent specifically adds 8 new patent claims with the first claim now stating:
"Projection apparatus, comprising: an illumination source, which is configured to generate a pattern of illumination comprising light and dark spots; and an array of lenses, positioned so that the lenses in the array project different, respective parts of the pattern of the light and dark spots onto a scene; wherein the lenses are configured to project the respective parts of the pattern onto different, respective areas of the scene."
It's similar technology that was first introduced with iPhone X and Face ID projecting 30,000 invisible dots as the Apple image below revealed. The difference is that this particular invention relates to using the technology for longer distances and with other devices beyond iDevices and Face ID. It could lead to a Gesture recognition system which is illustrated as the main patent figure.
Patently Apple covered a 2016 Apple granted patent relating to an in-air hand gesturing system relating to this latest granted patent.
The technology was gained by Apple's acquisition of PrimeSense who had worked with Microsoft's Kinect 3D camera system for Xbox games and Xbox TV. We've been waiting for at least 4 years for Apple to bring this technology to market the Mac and Apple TV.
One of teh engineers listed on the patent works at Apple's facilities in Israel. Alexander Shpunt was the CTO of PrimeSense and is now with Apple and simply listed as an Architect. I couldn't find the second inventor Benny Pesach on LinkedIn, but he's been listed on a number of other Apple patents on this theme such as this 2015 patent.
Gesture recognition is likely to start coming to market this year on Smartphones using Sony's 3D camera module as noted in the image below. Apple's latest granted patent relates to a projection system working at greater distances and for controlling a specific 3D UI. The 2015 patent linked to in the last paragraph relates to a similar system for a future iPhone.