Apple Invents a new kind of user interface for their Future Mixed Reality Headset that uses Floating Interactive Orbs
Mr. Tomlinson M. Holman is an American film theorist, audio engineer, and inventor of film technologies, notably the Lucasfilm THX sound system. He developed the world's first 10.2 sound system, and has been employed by Apple since 2011 as a "Distinguished Engineer." Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple titled "Method and Device for presenting a synthesized reality user interface." Mr. Holman is listed as one of the inventors. For this reason, our report will focus on the user interface relating to a music app interface, though Apple explains that this new user interface concept could apply to documents, video files, Safari/webpages and more.
Overall, Apple's patent covers methods of presenting a synthesized reality (SR) user interface, including moving a data item in SR user interface, regrouping data items in an SR user interface, selecting groups of data items in an SR user interface, and playing audio files represented by data items in an SR user interface. SR is better known for representing VR, AR and Mixed Realty environments.
Although the invention can relate to an iPhone or iPad, the majority of the patent relates to interfaces for Apple's future MR Headset.
Apple notes that navigating among a large number of data items (such as audio files, video files, document files, or webpages) to locate a particular data item can be cumbersome. The invention covers an SR user interface that may be used to open a data item pf a plurality of data items. In various implementations, presentation of the SR user interface includes display of an SR volumetric environment including SR group representations at various locations in the SR volumetric environment around the user.
Apple's patent FIG. 1B below is a block diagram of an example operating architecture, with the user wearing an MR headset; FIG. 6A illustrates a SR volumetric environment #600 from the perspective of the user wearing the MR headset. It also illustrates a user interface using information bubbles or orbs. While the examples provided below related to Music, the interface could be used for documents, webpages, video files and more.
Apple's patent FIGS. 6B and 6C continue with the music user interface concept using information orbs or bubbles that the user can interact with, as noticed in patent FIG. 8A where the user is using 2-hand gesture to enlarge the orb as required. The user could also apply a 1-hand de-pinching gesture.
You could spend hours reading and reviewing the dozens of examples about this new HMD user interface concept. For the curious, review Apple's patent application 20210208688.
Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.