updated 05:30 pm EST, Thu December 1, 2011
Invisible ink would allow quick pairings
A series of new patent applications shows Apple interest in avatars, as well as unusual digital handshakes, reports say. In the latter concept, invisible inks and optical coatings would be integrated into a part of a device such as a glass bezel or an Apple logo. Properly-equipped cameras in another device could then detect the special material, interpreting it as a key for use in sharing data, establishing secure connections, or even identification at retailers. One example involves holding an iPhone in front of a MacBook to log in.
The avatar applications are meanwhile titled Automatic Avatar Creation and Avatars Reflecting User States, respectively. The first documents a way of automatically generating a 3D character using a photo. Recognition software would assign different "fitness values" to parts of a person's face, such as eyes, hair and the mouth. "Once the fitness values for the facial elements are computed, an overall fitness of the genome can be computed as a function of the individual facial element fitness values," Apple writes. A given use for the technology is Game Center, Apple's iOS-based social networking and matchmaking service.
The second avatar patent application would link the appearance of avatars to "trigger events." On a person's birthday, for example, an avatar might be shown with balloons and fireworks in the background. A person could also customize their avatar to change based on a selected mood; selecting "angry" might put on red clothing, for instance, while picking "happy" might trigger upbeat music.