Apple has been granted another patent (number 20170185161) for a “gesture-based user interface” that hints at gesture controls for Macs, Apple TVs and home appliances. The interface interface includes a movement monitor configured to monitor a user’s hand and to provide a signal based on movements of the hand.
A processor is configured to provide at least one interface state in which a cursor is confined to movement within a single dimension region responsive to the signal from the movement monitor, and to actuate different commands responsive to the signal from the movement monitor and the location of the cursor in the single dimension region.
In the patent filing, Apple notes that systems based on identifying hand gestures allow a wide range of inputs and can be used, for example, for text entry and for three dimensional control of animation in real time, such as in a virtual reality program running on a computer.
Apple says that hand gestures may also be used in simpler environments such as to control the flow and temperature of water of a faucet. For example, it’s suggested that movements of the hand with one finger held up are interpreted as controlling the water flow, and movements with two fingers held up control the temperature.
What’s more, a gesture-controller interface could be used to move a hand icon over various controls on a screen, such as a Mac or Apple TV. Only a single gesture could be used to control multiple functions. An additional gesture is used to turn on the system and thus random gestures are prevented from being interpreted as control movements.
Apple has been granted other patents — including number 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.