We reported back in December that Apple had submitted some patents for 3D Operating System navigation.  It turns out that they’ve also been looking at 3D multi-touch as a way of navigating a multi-touch tablet/iPhone.  The Baltimore Sun (via PED) dug up a patent from last month (#20090303231, Dec. 10, 2009  to be exact) on just such an idea.

[0034]The device supports a variety of applications, such as one or more of the following: a game application, a telephone application, a video conferencing application, an e-mail application, an instant messaging application, a blogging application, a photo management application, a digital camera application, a digital video camera application, a web browsing application, a digital music player application, and/or a digital video player application.

If this patent comes to fruition, the next iPhone/iPod/tablet interface might be nothing like anything we’ve seen before, and it could perhaps explain why we’ve been hearing the possibility of a “new type of interaction” to accompany the tablet.

The Sun also reports:

According to documents filed with the USPTO, Apple obtained the rights to this patent application from three French citizens: Fabrice Robinet, Thomas Goossens, and Alexandre Moha. The inventors assigned the patent to Apple on Sept. 29, 2008. It’s not clear if those citizens are Apple employees, per se. (Update: Actually, Mr. Moha is a product and engineering manager at Apple, per his LinkedIn profile; and Mr. Robinet is a software engineer at Apple, again, per LinkedIn.) Regardless, searches under Apple’s name in the patents database doesn’t retrieve this patent, because the names of the original French inventors are still on it. (I wonder why that is? Hmmm. :-)

 

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