“Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,291,346 for a ’3D remote control system employing absolute and relative position detection’ describes a system in which a user can interact with software by using a motion and light-sensing remote control,” Campbell reports. “Much like Nintendo’s Wii, the system uses infrared light sources and photodetectors, as well as an accelerometer, to calculate the absolute or relative position of the remote in respect to the display. “
Campbell reports, “This allows a user to point at an on-screen object or asset and manipulate it in three-dimensions… Because the patent was filed for in 2006, before the original iPhone was announced, Apple’s handset is not mentioned in the invention, however it can be assumed that the smartphone can also be adapted to become a 3D remote.”
More info, including Apple’s patent application illustrations, in the full article here.