Apple has been granted another patent (number 9885459) for a Mac user interface that utilizes gesture recognition. The invention involves “pattern projection using micro-lenses.”
The patent involves methods and systems for mapping of three-dimensional (3D) objects, and, specifically, to optical 3D mapping. Apple says it provides user motions that can control an interactive computer application, such as a game, in place of tactile interface elements such as a mouse, joystick or other accessory.
Here’s a summary of the patent: “An illumination assembly includes a light source, which is configured to emit optical radiation. A transparency containing a plurality of micro-lenses, which are arranged in a non-uniform pattern and are configured to focus the optical radiation to form, at a focal plane, respective focal spots in the non-uniform pattern. Optics are configured to project the non-uniform pattern of the focal spots from the focal plane onto an object.”
Apple has been granted other patents — including 2017018516, 20170185161, 94176706, and 9,449,758 — for gesture-based interfaces.
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.