Apple Wins Patents For Its Innovative 3D Gesture UI For iOS


The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has today published a new Apple patent titled “Working with 3D objects”, which describes a graphical interface that enables a user to generate and manipulate 3D objects using 3D gesture inputs on a computing device. According to AppleInsider, the interface may be a CAD application running on a computer with touch-sensitive surface, such as an iOS device.

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Apple’s filing details that the process can be controlled by special gestures made above a touchscreen’s surface, referring to a device that can detect the location of fingers with a “combination of capacitive touch sensors and proximity sensors embedded in the display”. The patent also details creation of 3D objects “extruded” from 2D images. For instance, to extrude a triangular prism out of a triangle, a user can touch the two-dimensional object in three places and “pull” or “lift” up, away from the screen’s surface.

“In order to generate the 3D renderings, a user can manipulate a 2D object with conventional touchscreen gestures, such as pinching. Instead of continuing with established iOS gestures, the invention deviates by introducing a third axis of control. […]

To indicate the end of a 3D gesture input, or deselection of an object, the application can be programmed to detect any number of 3D gestures, such as a user spreading their fingers or quickly moving them away from the screen. An object can be reselected by touching and holding on the screen for a certain amount of time.”

The filing also describes an interesting “sculpting” mode, that treats the 3D object as if it were made of clay or some other easily malleable material. At the end, the patent makes mention of using 3D or stereoscopic glasses to make the experience even more engaging.

The patent was originally filed for in 2012 and credits Nicholas V. King and Todd Benjamin as its inventors.