Leave it to Apple to steal someone else’s brilliant and revolutionary idea. They did it before when they took Xerox’s Alto GUI and mouse and turned it into the Apple Lisa, and then later into the Apple Macintosh. And they did it again when they took Fingerworks’ multi-touch technology and put it into the iPhone. And now, as highlighted by the AppleInsider, a recent patent application by Apple suggests that it is researching a motion tracking interface for its Mac OS X line of operating system, which would allow users to control and navigate the between the windows with their body motion – Project Natal anyone?
In case you didn’t just wake up from a 100 year slumber, you would probably have heard about Microsoft’s Project Natal – they full body motion tracking experience for its Xbox 360 console. Though Apple isn’t going after full body motion, they are still cutting it pretty close to Microsoft’s idea, which by the way according to a recent statement by Steve Ballmer, would see the light of the day in 2010.
Back to Apple, their idea is that all of the interface devices we use today require the user to use one or both of his hands, which according to them reduces the efficiency (what ever happened to Steve Jobs saying that your fingers are the best input device?? Anyways). They have come up with a way to use the iSight camera to track the movement of the user’s “target zone” (head, face, eyes or what ever – which we define prior to using the motion tracker) and respond to the movements as input. For example, looking right and left would switch between two open windows etc.
Oh and since we are on the topic, Apple again, isn’t the first with the idea. A senior of mine at Bahria University, Islamabad Campus, had implement something like this as his final year project, which he had done in partnership with the industry. His implantation controlled the mouse pointer on the screen with user’s eye movement. I think he is stationed somewhere in Germany or US of A right now on scholarship. Not bad for a country usually considered inferior technology wise.