Apple Patents 3D Touchscreen Interface; Speculation Begins

A recent US Patent and Trademark Office filing by three French Apple employees describes a “touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for manipulating three-dimensional virtual objects,” leading to renewed speculation about the interface that will be used in Apple’s supposedly-about-to-be-announced tablet device. Images accompanying the filing, however, show a conventional iPhone OS.

The patent was dug up by Gus Sentementes at the Baltimore Sun. He notes that because it was filed by three individuals and later assigned to Apple, searching on “apple” in the USPTO database doesn’t retrieve it, which he speculates was a way for Apple to cover its tracks. He also notes that the patent application addresses “a need for electronic devices with touch screen displays that provide more transparent and intuitive user interfaces for navigating in three dimensional virtual spaces and manipulating three dimensional objects in these virtual spaces."