Apple is working on — or at least considering — an app that would allow you to create 3D virtual characters for use on its macOS, iOS, watchOS and tvOS, as well future devices. The patent (number 20170154473) is dubbed “systems, methods and computer-readable media for placing an asset on a three-dimensional model.”
In the patent filing, Apple notes that some electronic devices can display 3D models that a user can control. For example, gaming consoles can display 3D avatars that represent a user, and the user can direct the avatar to perform specific actions in a game.
As another example, fashion accessory assets (e.g., glasses) can be placed on an external surface of a head asset of the model. Each asset can be placed or disposed on the model in a manner that may ensure that the position and orientation of the asset relative to other portions of the model are consistent when viewed from different angles. When a user moves an asset with respect to the remainder of the model, for example, by dragging the asset, the asset can move in a manner that maintains a consistent asset position and orientation with respect to other portions of the model.
The 3D models can be constructed from the combination of several assets such as a body, a head, eyes, ears, nose, hair, glasses, a hat, or other accessories. The assets can be placed on and incorporated into the model (e.g., placed on and integrated into an external surface of the model), or placed adjacent to the external surface of the model. To enhance the user's experience, the user can personalize a displayed model by selecting and moving specific assets with respect to the remainder of the model. Apple wants to make it easy for users to do this.
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.