Apple patent would offer more control over 3D avatars on Mac, iOS devices

Apple has applied for a patent (number 20180322709) for “systems, methods, and computer-computer-readable media for placing an asset on a 3D model” involving the Mac as well as iOS devices. One goal: enhance gaming experiences.

The invention, if it ever comes to fruition, involves  models that a user can control as part of an electronic device operation. 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. The three-dimensional 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. 

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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. 

Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “Systems, methods, and computer-readable media are provided for placing an asset on a three-dimensional model. Each asset can be associated with a pivot point and with an asset normal. A contact point on the surface of a model where an asset is to be positioned may be identified, and a surface normal that may be perpendicular to the surface at the contact point may also be identified. 

“Then, the asset can be placed on the model such that the position of the pivot point of the asset may coincide with the position of the identified contact point on the surface of the model, and such that the orientation of the asset normal may match the orientation of the identified surface normal.”

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.