Apple fan-boys are cheering all around the world, and bragging on the internet about the visionary geniuses the engineers in their favorite company are, as Apple received a patent for gesture based manipulation of virtual 3D objects. The new technology will allow users to play around with 3D objects created from 2D shapes, based on motion sensors that will detect fingers based on their position and proximity to the screen. This way, if your fingers are in the general vicinity of the display, you can conjure up objects out of ordinary shapes. The process will be much like touchscreen handling of normal shapes on your phone right now, but with the added benefit of another dimension to tweak and utilize. The function will work with CAD applications which will possibly help designers do their work faster and more easily. Keep in mind that even though this sounds like a huge leap ahead, we are not really sure when the technology will be available to the general public, so don't get too excited just yet.
How it works
Basically, if you have a 2D shape you can "grab" it and/or "pull" it into becoming a 3D object. For instance, you can grab and "pinch" a triangle to become a pyramid, or simply "expand" it to become a prism. The only difference will be the position of your fingers, which will be detected by the motion sensors. They will then reflect the movement of your fingers on the newly created object. As I've already said, the controls are pretty much the same – you will still use the same gestures as if you were touching the screen. Only, you know, you will be actually hovering your hands over it. This way you will be able to lift, control, and otherwise manipulate newly generated digital forms.
What else will you be able to do
For starters, just like any 3D manipulation program, this function of future touchscreen devices will enable you to rotate the object (what kind of program wouldn't is the question). There will also be something called "sculpting mode" which makes the generated object seem like it's made out of clay (because why use real clay when you have this function on your phone?). This mode will allow you even easier control and manipulation of the end result as the object will be extremely ductile. You will even be able to "break pieces" of it, just like real clay.
The application will also allow color manipulation in the same manner. You will be able to use your fingers in order to control the color, saturation, brightness, and contrast by hovering your fingers over screen (more specifically, over the precise UI of the settings you want to change).
But let's not forget
Let's not get too hyped about this yet. After all, even though they got the patent, the technology hasn't been implemented in any device at this time. Furthermore, even though it holds great potential, we don't really know if it will be properly utilized or not. It might end up becoming just another one of those gimmicks most people use once and then are never bothered with again. This would be great for 3D modeling, but how will it be used, and will it work properly, remains to be seen.