Apple Working on Dynamic, Motion-Based 3D Effects for iOS Devices?

According to a new patent application discovered by AppleInsider, Apple is exploring the idea of using a 3D iOS interface that’s based on eye and light location.

The patent, entitled “The Three Dimensional User Interface Effects on a Display by Using Properties of Motion,” seems to describe a system that relies on sensors in the iOS device that allow for eye tracking with the front facing camera and facilitate the display of a user interface which is able to automatically react to the world around it.

Apple’s patent points out that while the iPhone has many sensors – the compass, accelerometer, gyrometer, and GPS – it and other devices do not “take into account the location and position of the device on which the virtual 3D environment is being rendered in addition to the location and position of the user of the device, as well as the physical and lighting properties of the user’s environment in order to render a more interesting and visually appealing interactive virtual 3D environment on the device’s display.”

This kind of user interface would be able to track the movement of an iDevice, plus the lighting conditions and the eyes of the user, to create a more realistic 3D environment than those that currently exist.

One way this technology could be used, according to the patent, is in a display that allows for dynamic shadows that move based on the position of a light source outside of the phone. The position of the sun in the sky and how the phone is angled towards the sun would determine the placement of the shadows on the phone.

With the additional tracking of a user’s eyes, this system could potentially allow users to tilt their iDevices to see the virtual sides of a rendered 3D object. Users would also be able to rotate the iPhone to see behind elements on the screen.

The patent also mentions modular interface elements like a “bento box” that would allow people to look inside “cubby holes” and the use of the front-facing camera to create a spotlight that would shine on what the user is currently looking at.

3D would be enabled and disabled with a wave gesture, to save battery life. Finally, the patent says that the 3D interface could potentially be used on desktop machines and laptops with the use of a front-facing camera to track eye and head movement.

Sounds straight out of a sci-fi novel, right? Nintendo went 3D, and our movies are increasingly 3D, so is this the inevitable future of mobile gaming?

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