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Apple Gets Ready to Turn Heads

The series of figures above, submitted alongside Apple's patent application, gives clues on how the technology would work.

The series of figures above, submitted alongside Apple's patent application, gives clues on how the technology would work.

Apple wants you to use your head more — quite literally.

On December 17, the company filed a patent for “Systems and methods for adjusting a display based on the user’s position” (US patent application #20090313584). It’s described as “an electronic device for providing a display that changes based on the user’s perspective … For example, the electronic device may include a camera operative to detect the position of the user’s head. Using the detected position, the electronic device may be operative to transform displayed objects such that the displayed perspective reflects the detected position of the user.”

Technology blogger Houston Neal (Manufacturing Software Advice) points out Apple could easily use iSight camera, incorporated into many Mac machines, to facilitate this head-turning technology.

“Using [Apple’s new technology] for computer-aided drafting/manufacturing seems like the logical application,” he observed. “Of course with further development, it could be used in other types of programs and in other industries (architecture, building information modeling, health care).”

In essence, Apple’s technology could make it possible for you to rotate, zoom, pan, and tumble your 3D CAD models in PTC Pro/ENGINEER, Autodesk Inventor, or SolidWorks simply by tilting or turning your head.

After years of near-exclusive focus on Windows platform, some CAD software developers are turning their attention to Mac OS. Autodesk is publicly entertaining the idea of AutoCAD on Mac (April 2009). Siemens PLM Software has already released its high-end CAD package NX for Mac (June 2009). If Apple’s technology comes to fruition, it will give other CAD developers one more reason — and a strong one at that — to take a serious look at the Mac platform.

Neal created the video clip below to demonstrate how Apple’s technology might work (note that it’s a mock-up, not a real demonstration of Apple’s patent-pending technology):

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About Kenneth

Kenneth Wong has been a regular contributor to the CAD industry press since 2000, first an an editor, later as a columnist and freelance writer for various publications. During his nine-year tenure, he has closely followed the migration from 2D to 3D, the growth of PLM (product lifecycle management), and the impact of globalization on manufacturing. His writings have appeared in Cadalyst, Computer Graphics World, and Manufacturing Business Technology, among others.

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