Apple has been granted a patent (number 11557102 B2) for “methods for manipulating objects in an environment.” It involves enhanced augmented reality features on Macs, iPhones, and iPads.
About the patent
In the patent data, Apple says the development of computer systems for augmented reality (AR) has increased significantly in recent years. Example AR environments include at least some virtual elements that replace or augment the physical world. Input devices, such as cameras, controllers, joysticks, touch-sensitive surfaces, and touch-screen displays for computer systems and other electronic computing devices are used to interact with virtual/augmented reality environments. Example virtual elements include virtual objects include digital images, video, text, icons, and control elements such as buttons and other graphics.
However, Apple says the methods and interfaces for interacting with environments that include at least some virtual elements (e.g., applications, augmented reality environments, mixed reality environments, and virtual reality environments) are “cumbersome, inefficient, and limited.”
For example, systems that provide insufficient feedback for performing actions associated with virtual objects, systems that require a series of inputs to achieve a desired outcome in an augmented reality environment, and systems in which manipulation of virtual objects are complex, tedious and error-prone, create a significant cognitive burden on a user, and detract from the experience with the virtual/augmented reality environment.
In addition, these methods take longer than necessary, thereby wasting energy. This latter consideration is particularly important in battery-operated devices. Apple wants to overcome such limitations on Macs, iPhones, iPads, and, no doubt, its upcoming AR headset.
Summary of the patent
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “In some embodiments, an electronic device automatically updates the orientation of a virtual object in a three-dimensional environment based on a viewpoint of a user in the three-dimensional environment. In some embodiments, an electronic device automatically updates the orientation of a virtual object in a three-dimensional environment based on viewpoints of a plurality of users in the three-dimensional environment.
“In some embodiments, the electronic device modifies an appearance of a real object that is between a virtual object and the viewpoint of a user in a three-dimensional environment. In some embodiments, the electronic device automatically selects a location for a user in a three-dimensional environment that includes one or more virtual objects and/or other users.”