Apple patent application reveals new 3D GUI for iOS devices

“On January 12, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals an exciting new 3D GUI for iOS mobile devices,” Jack Purcher reports for Patently Apple. “The new UI will work with proximity sensor arrays and will respond to hovering gestures.”

“The Crazy Ones in Cupertino have been working on advanced 3D GUIs for some time now. We first learned of a major 3D GUI project back in 2009 that involved using head tracking technology,” Purcher reports. “Then in early 2010 we learned of Apple’s first project relating to a 3D GUI for iOS devices. Later that year Apple 3D multifunctional widgets and over time revealed advanced 3D and hovering based gesturing for CAD users on an iPad.”

Purcher reports, “With twenty times the GPU power coming to iOS devices over the next year, Apple appears to paving the way for a new 3D GUI for mobile devices in the not-too-distant future.”

Much more, including Apple’s patent application illustrations, in the full article here.

16 Comments

  1. I’d absolutely love an Apple 3D UI for my iPad! It’s not just about it looking 3D, it’s about functionality and being able to view documents easily and compartmentalizing my space better. Apple likely needed the GPU power to pull this off and the idea of a 20x gpu sounds like the solution. As long as Apple could pull this off and get us better batter life to boot, then it sure looks exciting.

    1. Yeah. I’m glad that apple will never ever release a half baked product if they can help it (everyone messes up at some point) but they will usually wait until it’s perfect.

      That’s what happened here, and the excitement that we will be getting a full feature 3D GUI sometime soon is awesome 😀

  2. I’m still not sold on 3D. Of course, if anybody can produce something great it’s going to be Apple.

    I have no doubt they will come up with great ways for the UI to behave. For me, though, it’s also about the mechanism that gives you the 3D image. I’ve been very unimpressed with 3D televisions, movies and the Nintendo 3DS. It’s cool for about five minutes, and then it’s eye strain after that.

    So far, every other company has been utilizing 3D as a gimmick. Apple doesn’t typically do gimmicks, so if they actually introduce a product I will have high expectations for it.

  3. I don’t think that it’s 3D in that way where you need glasses and that nonsense. It’s 3D as an environment. It will be easy on the eyes because it’s not about video. It’s a 3D UI. You could have photos of friends and family on one side wall, your working document in the center and your apps on the side. with a simple twist of your wrist you could change from one wall to the next easily. Apple will do it right and I really hope that they could raise the UI bar once again for media devices and leave the competiton scratching their heads once again. With a functional and cool 3D UI and Siri, you have a completely new beast. I love it.

  4. To me, 3D still seems like a gimmick. I’d still rather see a film in a movie theater or at home – beautifully done with great picture, involving surround sound, and superb writing and direction – in 2D rather than having to don glasses for a 3D presentation. Avatar in 3D came close for me in accepting a 3D presentation but I still got out of the monent many times when my eyes focused out of the 3D screen frame and I had to refocus back into the “odd” 3D environment. But, if any company can make 3D a viable, usable, and useful technology, it would be the folks at Apple. We’ll see what happens, I suppose.

    1. You are still missing the point. Did you read the article?
      It’s talking about a 3D GUI; that’s Graphic User Interface. It’s about using the proximity sensor to detect hover gestures. It says that quit clearly, so why are you whittering on about 3D cinema?

      1. The last time I checked a Graphic User Interface also includes the way objects are visually displayed for the user not just the mechanics behind gestures. In this case the 3D rendering of the interface. My comment about cinema was regarding comparing he way displayed images looked in 3D and how it could be pulled off by Apple in their devices if done correctly. Some of the previous comments made before my post also hit upon 3D images and the use of glasses in regard to 3D. And, honestly, if you disagree with what I said, why the attitude and not just pointing me in the right direction without being so abrasive?

  5. I think that a change in UI would be refreshing. In fact, Apple should offer the new UI and one that they simply dub “Classic.” This way there’s no grumbling from die hards who have a problem with change.

  6. Sounds like an innovation that is likely to cause major grief for garden-variety iPhone users. The aggravation of unintended actions is already upon us with multi-gesture trackpads. I dunno about this one. Of course, if one could turn the “3D” sensitivity on and off, that might be a different story.

    1. I get what you’re saying. Perhaps be given the ablitiy to increase or decrease sensitivity would be better. Anyone who plays video games knows what that’s about. Controlling a gun in a game has to be balanced just right so that you’re quick to aim but not off the wall stupid where you’re over swinging. That’s good feedback for Apple.

  7. NOTE: The 3D GUI concept does not use headache-inducement-glasses or any other accessory. It’s simply a flat screen where what you see behind it is 3D. You can interact with that 3D world to do as you like.

    The first incident of a 3D GUI I experienced was on an IRIX OS box. It was called ‘fsn’ or ‘fusion’. It was a 3D file browser with which you could interact, zooming in and rotating. It was a bit rudimentary at the time, using outlines of objects.

    fns @ Wikipedia

    It has grown up a bit since then into ‘fsv’ or File System Visualizer, available for Linux and other UNIX OSse. However, I still consider it a rudimentary and waiting for refinement in graphics as well as user interaction.

    File System Visualizer @ Wikipedia

    On Mac, the nearest equivalent 3D GUI I know of is the shareware ‘3D fileSpace for Mac OS X’. However, it significantly relies upon 2D plains for presenting its 3D space.

    3D fileSpace for Mac OS X

  8. -> Seeing as MDN have been sitting on the complete version of this post for over 24 hours (‘awaiting moderation’), here is the less functional, no URLS version for your reading pleasure:

    NOTE: The 3D GUI concept does not use headache-inducement-glasses or any other accessory. It’s simply a flat screen where what you see behind it is 3D. You can interact with that 3D world to do as you like.

    The first incident of a 3D GUI I experienced was on an IRIX OS box. It was called ‘fsn’ or ‘fusion’. It was a 3D file browser with which you could interact, zooming in and rotating. It was a bit rudimentary at the time, using outlines of objects.

    It has grown up a bit since then into ‘fsv’ or File System Visualizer, available for Linux and other UNIX OSse. However, I still consider it a rudimentary and waiting for refinement in graphics as well as user interaction.

    On Mac, the nearest equivalent 3D GUI I know of is the shareware ’3D fileSpace for Mac OS X’. However, it significantly relies upon 2D plains for presenting its 3D space.

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