• Apple Investigating 3D Motion Tracking

    An Apple patent application just released by the US Patent & Trademark Office describes "an electronic device for providing a display that changes based on the user's perspective," AppleInsider notes. The technology would potentially allow a device - a camera-equipped computer, for example, an iPhone - the to track the location of its user and adjust a 3D display based on your position.

    The patent application talks about three-dimensional objects viewed on a flat screen: not, for the moment at least, holograms or other kinds of simulated 3D. Apple talks in the application about the limitations of current 3D representations: on order to change perspective you have to use the mouse or keyboard to manipulate the object. People who work in graphics or gamers are perfectly comfortable with this approach, but Apple considers it unintuitive for new users.

    The display that Apple describes in its patent application would be able to sense a user's position through different approaches - such as video, infrared, or electromagnetic fields etc - depending on the device. Given that many Apple displays have integrated cameras, though, the application describes video as a common detection medium.

    For example, the electronic device may include a camera operative to detect the position of the user's head. Using the detected position, the electronic device may be operative to transform displayed objects such that the displayed perspective reflects the detected position of the user. The electronic device may use any suitable approach for modifying a displayed object, including for example a parallax transform or a perspective transform.
    Apple also notes that 3D displays lack realism because the lighting and shadow don't match what's on the other side of the screen. The remedy that they propose is to incorporate elements of the user's environment in the simulation:

    In some embodiments, the electronic device may overlay the environment detected by the sensing mechanism (e.g., by a camera) to provide a more realistic experience for the user (e.g., display a reflection of the image detected by the camera on reflective surfaces of a displayed object).
    Many observers have noted the similarity between this technology and a device created by a Carnegie Mellon University student, Johnny Chung, using a Nintendo Wii remote controller. A video of the device in action got 7.6 million times on YouTube - and probably many more today.

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd3-eiid-Uw&feature=player_embedded]YouTube - Head Tracking for Desktop VR Displays using the WiiRemote[/ame]

    image via AppleInsider
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