Apple iPhone 6 to Feature Kinect and Force-Detecting MacBook Trackpad

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Apple secured two new patents for its upcoming iPhone 6. On March 13, two new published patent applications hinted at Apple?s foray into three-dimensional images in mobile devices. The patents also describe a system allowing better ways mobile phones can connect or work with laptop computers. Will Apple really introduce a Kinect-enabled iPhone?

According to a report by Apple Insider, Apple?s “Imaging Range Finding Device and Method? involves a system that works just like the Kinect sensor from Microsoft. The system features a range of photodetectors and light emitters found on the back of the optical lens. The lens will be used to direct the movement of light to the object.

Light will bounce back from the device via the lens. So will the light emitted from the object. The system will analyze the direction of light to determine the location and size of the object. By adding one or more moveable lens improves the accuracy of the system. According to the filing, this set up conserves energy allowing the system to work despite unlikely environments like areas filled with fog or smoke.

According to the patent, Apple wants include the range finder for a range of uses. These include:

  • Scanning and mapping interior space for matching pattern and 3D object scanning
  • For navigating through visually-impaired environments like finding landmarks and similar important areas.
  • For communicating with the deaf, the system can detect and relay sign language to a hearing user.
  • For segmenting automatic foreground or background allowing real-time motion capture as well as avatar generation
  • For photo editing
  • For seeing better in the night or through cloudy and opaque environments.?

Last year, Apple acquired Israeli company PrimeSense for $360 million. Before the acquisition, the company was looking into a 3D sensor named Capri 1.25. The sensor was compact enough to fit into mobile devices. It appears Apple has found a way to incorporate the technology into its upcoming flagship.

The patent credit goes to Matthes Emanuel Last of Davis for U.S. Patent Application No. 61698375. The second patent goes by “Optical Sensing Mechanisms for Input Devices.” The technology describes a new kind of trackpad controlled by reflected light.


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