back to article Apple iPad fondlers are about to enter a THIRD DIMENSION

Apple has designed three-dimensional touch technology so iPad fanbois can "pull" virtual 3D objects off the tablet screen. The US patents office has granted the secretive secretor of shininess a patent on a method of creating and modifying 3D objects by detecting hand movements, similar to Microsoft's Xbox Kinect games …


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  1. DAN*tastik


    If I am not wrong ( I could easily be ) they need a working model to have it patented?

    f that is the case, where is it kept? As much as I don't like Apple, I would be thrilled to try it. Does it also work with their keyboard made of extra terrestrial rock fragments?

    If I manage to create something similar, but with a procedure which is different from the one they specified, I believe I am not infringing their patent... ( I could easily be wrong again )

    It would be handy to have a look at the steps to obtain it that they submitted to the patent office?

    1. Citizen Kaned

      Re: Fantastic!

      nah. apple have now patented 3d retrospectively.

      im sure ive seen concepts like this in movies. is that prior art to a concept drawing?

      1. Elmer Phud

        Prior art?

        "modifying 3D objects by detecting hand movements"

        I don't need to say any more, do I?

        ( 'Matron!' icon required)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fantastic!

        The patent is a 35 page/15,000 word document, so I think there's a bit more to it than that. In my experience, when Apple, Microsoft, IBM etc patent something, they pretty much know how to achieve it, even if it isn't yet commercially viable. And it's the real world use cases that they attempt to patent. A special effect in a movie is no more prior art than a child's crayon drawing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fantastic!

          An idea should not be patentable. The technical method used to achieve it should be. Patents should purely be for the How and not the What and this nicely demonstrates why the current system is not fit for purpose. We were doing this years ago using VR headsets and gloves so although the medium has changed the outcome is still the same so plenty of prior art, and just like with a lot of Apples patents 'xxx on a mobile' or 'xxx on a tablet' does not count as either a new invention or innovative enough to warrant a patent.,

        2. Bucky 2

          Re: Fantastic!

          "The patent is a 35 page/15,000 Word document"

          Doesn't this subsume the patent under Microsoft's paradigm and make it a Microsoft patent?

        3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Fantastic!

          Children's cartoons are perfectly valid prior art for patents

      3. toadwarrior

        Re: Fantastic!

        Awww, the poor little fanboy is butt hurt that his favourite corporation doesn't innovate and can't as easily rip-off ideas from Apple.

    2. Tom 35

      they need a working model to have it patented?

      Not any more. You could get a patent on a warp drive.

      Trolls can take something we can almost do, take a guess at how it will be done in the future and get a patent. Now wait for someone else to do the hard work and get it to work... profit!

    3. Arctic fox

      Re:"If I am not wrong ( I could easily be ) they need a working model to have it patented?"

      Unfortunately you are mistaken. Sadly the (eminently sensible) requirement that can be summed up as "No working prototype, no patent" is in fact not a requirement. Which is why Cupertino can and do produce a huge stream of concept patents in an attempt to plant a gigantic judicial minefield all over mobile tech space. They are by no means the only offender as far as this tactic is concerned but they are certainly amongst the most assiduous practitioners.

  2. Robert Grant

    SURELY this is absurd?

    They're patenting a specific use of a UI? Is this a bit like patenting click-and-hold, drag, release to draw a line in a graphics program?

    1. Citizen Kaned

      Re: SURELY this is absurd?

      come on... you know they would if they could! :)

    2. toadwarrior

      Re: SURELY this is absurd?

      You mean like 1 click buy?

    3. JetSetJim

      Re: SURELY this is absurd?

      I saw the description and just thought "Google Sketchup without a mouse"

  3. James 51

    If they have developed a new type of sensor or a novel configuration ok, but they are trying to patient processing power and storage?

    1. Big_Ted
      Paris Hilton


      so if I copy their method exactly but with a little more or less storage used then surely I am not breaking the law.....

  4. TeeCee Gold badge

    "...similar to Microsoft's Xbox Kinect games controller."


    I'd like some lawyers please and some popcorn with that.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: "...similar to Microsoft's Xbox Kinect games controller."

      There already is a Kinect for PCs, tweaked to operate over smaller distances than its games-console brother. I have already posted in a Reg Kinect thread that I would like to see this existing device used for 3D CAD input. I'm not saying that I'm a genius, but rather the opposite: This is an obvious application.

      Oh, regarding the headline: Apple Patent != forthcoming product.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "...similar to Microsoft's Xbox Kinect games controller."

        Similar in the way that porridge is similar to bacon, eg they are both implementations of breakfast but achieved in fundamentally different ways

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: "...similar to Microsoft's Xbox Kinect games controller."


          Point taken. Different means. Apple just seem to be using the proximity sensor for the Z axis... I'm surprised that they have limited it to that. In CAD, you usually 'sketch' the rough shape and then define relations (tangent to, perpendicular to, etc) before adding dimensions- with some UIs using an ersatz jog dial. It is is this 'jog dial' that the proximity sensor could take the place of.

          But I remain curious as to the CAD applications of a hand-scale Kinnect-like system.

      2. Darryl

        Re: "...similar to Microsoft's Xbox Kinect games controller."

        Apple Patent != forthcoming product

        Apple Patent = nothing but grief for anyone who actually does this instead of just submitting essays and drawings.

      3. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Re: "...similar to Microsoft's Xbox Kinect games controller."

        "Apple Patent != forthcoming product."

        But who could resist writing a Twilight Zone headline?


  5. Wind Farmer

    Pr()n uses?

    Who'll be the first to send pictures of their finery to iPad toting girls, hoping that they will use their fingers to pull off the 2D pic?

    1. Big_Ted

      Re: Pr()n uses?

      As long as a tongue gesture is included as a method of deciding the response to you image, also not sure it would help if its on an ipad mini or iphone......

  6. Big_Ted

    Very limited use

    Apart from a few objects such as cube, box, prism etc I don't see that this could would on anything else, for instance a tree or similar would not work, and just imagine, you go to facebook and some nobs face pops out the screen at you. Que dropped ipads......

    This will have as much use as some other Apple patents until true holographic screns are available. A standard 3d screen would be as exciting as a nintendo 3ds is now.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Very limited use

      It does look a bit limited, a fuller gesture system for common 2d > cad operations would be better, kinnect style, eg rotate, extrude, loft, sweep etc.

  7. LinkOfHyrule

    I'm surprised they don't just patent a process involving pushing out predigested foodstuffs from a ring of muscle in a persons lower digestive tract, into a large porcelain bowl filled with water, with additional user input via the use of wiping touch gestures during the clean up process and then just sue all of mandkind's arse's off literally!!!!!!

    1. damager

      Look out for the three iShells coming soon. No instruction manual needed...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        There's a workaround for that, but it has consequences:

        "Damager, you are fined one credit for a violation of the Verbal Morality Statute ..."

  8. Shagbag

    "protected Apple tech"

    I'm not sure about that one. I thought the validity of a patent was decided in a Court and not at the Patent Office.

  9. jarjarbinks

    Once again patent office fails

    This is just yet another example of the patent office allowing a patent through that is too abstract and could cover everything including Xbox Kinect. I don't understand how these sorts of patents, much like software patents are allowed. They completely prevent innovation when they are so vague.. unless of course the 35 page document details a very narrow specific use of this patent?

    It seems what apple (and some other companies) are doing is trying to find ways to patent things that thus far are just taken for granted that they would not otherwise be patentable. The whole rounded slab thing and suing Samsung, for example is mind boggling. Yes I know there is more to it, but despite that I agree the Samsung tablet looks very's not the same thing.. its not a copy.. they designed it similar but it's different hardware, different software, and yet it's banned.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nicholas King and Benjamin Todd

    These guys should be ashamed of themselves putting their names to this dodgy claim.

  11. Robert E A Harvey

    >The patent includes the proximity sensors needed to sense movement,

    OK, fair enough I suppose

    >and the processing power and temporary storage needed to

    >generate and modify the virtual object on the screen.

    But this? that makes no sense.

    I can understand someone patenting - say - that idea for a walking insect-like tree felling machine. But "it needs a

    400HP engine, so this patent covers having a big enough engine"?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    so basically, it is The Leap ( ) for the iPad?

    also didn't Microsoft show a notebook sometime ago where they used sonar like method to track the users hand movement? ( )

    any way, I've been trying to work on a design of a phone/tablet version of Microsoft's idea. Basically, the phone/tablet will have 4 miniature speakers (one at each corner) and 2 miniature microphones at the center of the phone/tablet (one on each side). The phone/tablet will then map the hand of the user above the phone/tablet and allow the user to interact with the phone/tablet in 3D space.

    while I will admit that I though of the idea after watching Microsoft's demo, does that mean that Apple can block me from working on this idea?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      It's Apples free meal ticket to all the profit that the leap makes when sold. ;)

    2. Amonynous

      Prior prior art

      You'd probably have a bunch of previous patent holders suing you or chasing royalties first. Google "Sonic Digitizers" for some examples prior art in using sound to take measurements in 2D and 3D space, and doubtless there are plenty of still-valid patents on that technology.

      (My first job in 1988 was writing quantity surveying/cost estimating software for use with 2D sonic digitisers. They were a lot cheaper than electromagnetic induction type digitisers for the large sizes of construction blueprint that needed to be measured. Exchanging CAD files and cheap electromagnetic digitisers have killed them off for 2D work.

      They are still available for 3D applications as alternative technologies cost a lot more. The biggest problem with sonic digitisers is calibration. Changes in air pressure/temperature affect the speed of sound enough that you have to calibrate to known reference points frequently to ensure accuracy, which is not a problem for alternative technologies.)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The working prototype argument.

    Many here bang on about working prototypes. It's for the very fact you DON'T need one that patents were designed for.

    Take this scenario.

    Dave in his shed has a eureka moment and comes up with the design for cold fusion. He's 100% sure it will work. However a prototype will cost £1 million to build and design. On his £15k a year, it may take some time to build it in order to secure a patent. So he goes off to mega-corp to get his idea into production. Mega-corp go, no sorry not interested. 6 months later mega-corp releases a cold-fusion reactor and gets the patent. They now earn £100 million a year off device patent.

    Dave sits crying in his shed. On his £15k a year, what can he do?

  14. stevnim

    Sony had something like this in their labs in 2006 called Revolution. Look towards the end of this video.

  15. Anonymous Coward 15
    Paris Hilton

    3D interactive porn!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Otherwise known as the "Wankslab", although probably only if jailbroken given Apple's puritanical streak.

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