Saturday, February 24, 2024
Archived Post

Apple wants to remove your skeleton (well, from a scanned 3D profile)

Yesterday, I reported that Apple had filed for a second patent for a “scanning depth engine” that generates 3D profiles. The tech giant has also been granted a patent (number 9,898,651) for “upper body skeleton extraction from depth maps,” which would facilitate gesture controls on a Mac or an Apple TV.

A “depth map” refers to a representation of a scene as a two-dimensional matrix of pixels. They can be processed in order to segment and identify objects in the scene. Identification of humanoid forms (meaning 3D shapes whose structure resembles that of a human being) in a depth map, and changes in these forms from scene to scene, can be used as a means for controlling computer applications. 

An example would be a computer-implemented method in which a depth map is segmented so as to find a contour of a humanoid body. The contour is processed in order to identify a torso and one or more limbs of the body. An input is generated to control an app running on a computer by analyzing a disposition of at least one of the identified limbs in the depth map. 

Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “A method for processing data includes receiving a depth map of a scene containing at least an upper body of a humanoid form. The depth map is processed so as to identify a head and at least one arm of the humanoid form in the depth map. Based on the identified head and at least one arm, and without reference to a lower body of the humanoid form, an upper-body pose, including at least three-dimensional (3D) coordinates of shoulder joints of the humanoid form, is extracted from the depth map.”

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.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.