updated 12:05 pm EDT, Thu May 8, 2008
Apple 3D remote patent
An Apple patent application, just published by the US Patent and Trademark Office, depicts a new 3D remote technology. Similar in basic concept to the controller for Nintendo's Wii console, the remote would have a photosensor, accelerometer or gyroscope, and detect absolute and/or relative position to an image. Distinguishing it would be the ability to zoom in on part of an image at will by pushing a button.
Yet more unusual may be the devices that could qualify as a remote, as the patent makes specific reference to allowing "any portable, mobile, hand-held, or miniature consumer electronic device" to function in this regard. This may imply the compatibility of the iPhone or iPod touch, both of which already have motion sensors, and are expected to gain some sort of remote control functionality through the iPhone 2.0 firmware. The patent likewise says that input could include a touchscreen, or even the sort of clickwheel used on the iPod classic and Nano.
Parallels with the Wii return in that the patent makes further reference to gaming; instead of merely pointing at objects, a remote could be used to move a game character, or perhaps shift field-of-view. It is also believed that this could be used within the context of Apple's virtual world concept, but the new patent does not refer to this. Apple demonstrated motion-sensor gaming when it initially revealed the iPhone SDK to developers.