Apple Receives Patent for 3D Gesture Control on Touchscreen Devices

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a newly-granted Apple patent (via AppleInsider) addressing a means for extending the multi-touch input present on Apple's touchscreen devices to the airspace above the screen, allowing for 3D manipulation of objects via 3D gesture inputs.

The patent, which was filed in July 2012 and is entitled "Working with 3D objects", describes a system that detects both 2D objects in a user interface and a 3D gesture input close to the device's surface, which then generates a 3D object that is presented in the user interface of the device.

Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 2.56.00 pm

According to the patent, the device detects the location of the user's fingers using a combination of both the capacitive touch sensors and the proximity sensors located in the display. The new technology would work in combination with the existing touchscreen controls on the device, and would allow users to lift their fingers off the screen in order to "pull out" a 3D shape from a 2D one (as the drawing in the patent shown above demonstrates), just like in most existing CAD programs.

Techniques and systems that support generating, modifying, and manipulating 3D objects using 3D gesture inputs are disclosed. For example, 3D objects can be generated based on 2D objects. A first user input identifying a 2D object presented in a user interface can be detected, and a second 3D gesture input that includes a movement in proximity to a surface can be detected. A 3D object can be generated based on the 2D object according to the first and second user inputs, and the 3D object can be presented in the user interface where the 3D object can be manipulated by the user.

Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 3.13.20 pm
Other uses for the new technology include the ability to use 3D gestures to sculpt using virtual clay-like materials and to change parameters such as shadows, brightness, textures and more. The patent may mark Apple's move to push the iPad more as a creative device which can be used in a variety of industries, including computer-aided design (CAD).

The idea of controlling a device using gestures is not new, however. The Samsung Galaxy S4 currently features a technology known as "Air Gesture", which allows the user to control their device using a number of simple gestures. But Apple's patent covers different technology -- whereas Samsung uses a light sensor to detect the user's gestures, Apple's technology would instead be embedded into the device's screen.

Tag: patent

Top Rated Comments

bbeagle Avatar
101 months ago
Ugh. This is NOT something that should be patentable. Gestures are not patentable. In all seriousness, I myself thought of this exact idea like 5 years ago. The patent system is insane.

Apple is not patenting GESTURES. Apple is patenting the process by which a computer can determine what gesture you are making by using touch sensors and proximity sensors.
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Tones2 Avatar
101 months ago
Ugh. This is NOT something that should be patentable. Gestures are not patentable. In all seriousness, I myself thought of this exact idea like 5 years ago. The patent system is insane.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
edgonzalez32 Avatar
101 months ago
Putting something in a movie does not mean you own the patent.

Thinking up the CONCEPT of a time machine, and actually DESIGNING said time machine are 2 different things. The first is NOT patentable, the second IS.

I'll patent the concept of 'making money' if concepts are patentable, and sue anyone who makes money from doing anything.

He was joking dude.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
24601 Avatar
101 months ago
Doesn't Tony Stark already have this patent? I'm pretty sure Jarvis works this way. ;)
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
newagemac Avatar
101 months ago
Aren't a lot of these patents about implementation?

Actually ALL patents are about the implementation. And this is what makes the patent system so great. You get lots of different people/companies coming up with tons of different methods and implementations to solve some sort of problem. And then when the patents expire, everyone gets to use whatever turned out to be the best implementation. This is how the world progresses with technology.

If you ever see someone posting on a forum.... "That shouldn't be patented! That's already been done before!" ...that's when you know the poster doesn't have the slightest clue what they're talking about. They are ignorant of how the patent system works.

It's all about the specific method or implementation you went about to achieve it in your own unique way. And some implementations turn out to be better than others... which is what the patent system is there to help produce... tons of different and creative implementations of how to solve often the same problem so that increasingly better ones emerge rather than everyone just using the first one that exists.... and encouraging this creativity (and the sharing of it with the world by detailing it in patent filings) by giving financial incentives for doing so.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cmChimera Avatar
101 months ago
Ugh. This is NOT something that should be patentable. Gestures are not patentable. In all seriousness, I myself thought of this exact idea like 5 years ago. The patent system is insane.

Did you invent it though? Or did you sit on your idea and somehow expect that no one else would actually do something with it? Furthermore, as pointed out, gestures are not being patented.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

General Music and AirPod 3 Feature

Rumor: Apple to Announce Third-Generation AirPods and HiFi Apple Music Tier on May 18

Thursday May 13, 2021 10:32 pm PDT by
A new rumor suggests that Apple will announce the third-generation AirPods and the recently rumored HiFi, or high-fidelity Apple Music tier, on Tuesday, May 18, via a press release on its website. The new rumor comes from Apple YouTuber Luke Miani who shared the alleged exclusive news with the AppleTrack website. According to the YouTuber, Apple plans to release the next-generation AirPods...
apple park drone june 2018 2

Apple Fires Newly Hired Ex-Facebook Product Manager Following Revelations of Past Misogynistic Comments

Thursday May 13, 2021 12:10 am PDT by
Apple has fired Antonio García Martínez, an ex-Facebook product manager and author of the controversial book "Chaos Monkeys," following public and internal calls for removal and investigation due to past misogynistic statements, The Verge reports. Apple hired Martínez earlier this week to join its ads team, however, comments that Martínez made in the past sparked condemnation from users...
imac m1 blue isolated 16x9 500k

M1 iMac is Up to 56% Faster Than Prior-Generation High-End 21.5-Inch iMac

Wednesday May 12, 2021 10:03 am PDT by
Apple's M1 iMacs are set to start delivering to customers next week, and ahead of the official launch day, benchmarks for the machines have been showing up on Geekbench, likely from reviewers who are testing them. It will come as no surprise that M1 iMac benchmarks are right on par with benchmarks for the M1 MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini, coming in with an average single-core score...
2021 mbp hdmi slot 3d

2021 MacBook Pro Leaks Confirm Returning MagSafe and Ports

Friday May 14, 2021 3:06 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming MacBook Pro models are expected to feature a number of major changes such as larger display options and powerful new Apple silicon chips. Among the more surprising updates to this year's MacBook Pro models is the return of three ports that have been missing from the machines for over five years. Expected to come in 14- and 16-inch sizes, the 2021 MacBook Pro models are...
fortnite apple logo 2

Judge in Epic vs. Apple Case Floats Potential Compromise

Wednesday May 12, 2021 3:54 pm PDT by
In the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Epic Games, the two companies are this week calling up their expert witnesses to argue their points before Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who will make a decision in the case after a three week trial. Expert testimony is not as exciting as some of the leaked App Store documents that were highlighted last week, especially as much of what's being...
google photos

PSA: Google Photos Unlimited Storage Ends Next Month, Here's How to Export Your Pictures to iCloud

Thursday May 13, 2021 5:26 am PDT by
For as long as it's existed, Google Photos has offered free unlimited storage for uploading images at a reduced yet good enough quality for most users. From June 1, 2021, however, all photos and videos uploaded to Google accounts will count against users' cloud storage. If you've been relying on Google to back up your media library, it may be time to move that content elsewhere. This article...
AirTag in Envelope Feature 2

AirTag Used to Successfully Track a Mailed Package Across the UK

Wednesday May 12, 2021 8:44 am PDT by
An Apple customer in the United Kingdom has successfully used Apple's Find My network to track an AirTag as it was being sent by mail to a friend in a completely different city. Outlined in a blog post at Intego, Kirk McElhearn said he taped an AirTag to a piece of card, wrapped it inside a small bubble envelope, and then sent it on its way. Kirk lives in the small town of...
m1 ipad pro chip

M1 iPad Pro Over 50% Faster Than Previous Generation in Early Benchmarks

Tuesday May 11, 2021 11:56 am PDT by
Last month, Apple introduced a new iPad Pro with the same M1 chip found in the latest Macs, and early benchmark results indicate that the M1 iPad Pro is over 50% faster than the previous-generation iPad Pro. Based on five legitimate Geekbench 5 results (here's the fifth) for the fifth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the M1 chip, the device has average single-core and multi-core scores of...
prosser macbook air colors stacked

Images Reveal Colorful New MacBook Air Design

Tuesday May 11, 2021 5:06 am PDT by
Apple's next MacBook Air will feature a completely new design and come in a range of colors like the 24-inch iMac, according to leaker Jon Prosser, who has now released supposedly accurate renders of the new machines based on leaked images. In a new video uploaded to YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Prosser elaborated on his previous prediction that Apple's next-generation MacBook Air models ...
iPhone 13 Camera Backs

iPhone 13 Models Will Be Slightly Thicker and Will Have Larger Camera Bumps

Monday May 10, 2021 10:41 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 models will be slightly thicker than the iPhone 12 models and will also feature larger, thicker camera bumps with lenses that protrude less, according to iPhone 13 schematics seen by MacRumors. The new iPhone 13 and 13 Pro models are expected to feature a thickness of 7.57mm, up from 7.4mm in the iPhone 12 models. That's an increase of 0.17mm, which won't be hugely ...