Microsoft Kinect is probably the coolest new input/computer control device invented this decade. And it opens the way for the development of completely new user interfaces for your computing devices.
Given the importance and potential of contactless 3D input, it’s impossible to think that this Microsoft invention has gone unnoticed by Apple. I’m pretty sure that folks at Cupertino are busy developing their own version of Kinect, and re-imagining how you interect with your Macs and iPhones with the help of 3D control devices.
Today we get the first glimpse at Apple’s own project Natal (a code name Kinect was known by at Microsoft when still in development). It comes in the form of Apple patent application called “Three dimensional imaging and display system”
With the help of high speed infrared laser, Apple’s 3D control system creates a volume of space where all movements of objects, like user hands, can be observed by high-speed photo detector. The movements are then translated into control gestures used to manipulate user interface on computer screen.
Apple’s 3D controller, as described in the application, is much more limited then Microsoft’s Kinect. But this is just one patent app that made it to the public domain, so far. They must be playing with much more advanced things in Apple’s R&D labs today.
I’m really looking forward to see what the end result of these efforts will be, when Apple finally makes something that they think is ready for the market.
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