Apple Patent Describes 3D Motion-Controlled iPhone Interface

Apple’s latest patent filing, which was filed in July 2010 and made public this week by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), details a new iPhone interface concept in which the user relies on motion controls to interact with a 3D environment. However, this is not 3D in the sense of images springing off the screen; the patent filing refers to it as 3D images built with polygons.

According to AppleInsider, the interface “uses orientation data from onboard sensors, like a gyroscope and compass, to navigate the system.” A picture accompanying the patent filing shows a virtual room that the user could look around in by moving their device; a “snap to” feature would allow the user to automatically switch to a specific view through a preset action, such as shaking the iPhone.

As with all of Apple’s patent filings, a healthy dose of salt should be taken with this one. Apple spends a significant amount of money on research and development and files many patents on a regular basis; the resulting intellectual property may or may not bear fruit some day.

In fact, according to Fairview Research, Apple filed 676 patents in 2011, good for 39th place on a list of most-active USPTO filers. IBM was number one with over 6,000 filings.