updated 11:50 pm EDT, Mon April 16, 2012
Apple continues ongoing 3D camera tech
Apple job listings have shown that Apple is still actively researching 3D visual display and capturing technology that would extend to its iOS devices. An iOS Software Engineer position is looking for a doctorate holder who can handle "cameras and surfaces in a 3D environment" as well as "multi-view stereo and 3D reconstruction." Although it's unclear how long the same technical requirements have existed for the job, employees have been mentioning work in 3D imaging for at least two years.
As described, the positions imply a system that sounds somewhat like Microsoft's Kinect for the Xbox 360, which uses a main camera and a depth sensor to record not just the form of the object but get a sense for its spatial perception. Apple's method wouldn't necessarily use the Microsoft technique, and could instead use two cameras or other techniques to piece together a 3D representation.
At least some rendering would be part of the equation, as it would include "inpainting of occluded geometry and texture data" as well as "mesh texturing techniques."
Apple is known to research projects that don't necessarily have a short-term production plan, but what it would used 3D image capture for isn't guaranteed. It has patented 3D interface technology, but its ideal representation involves holographic displays that would be impractical in the current environment.
Some leaks of discussions surrounding Apple's much alluded-to TV research has had talk of motion gesture control. That in itself wouldn't be new, however, as an Xbox 360 with Kinect can already handle much of its main interface through gestures. If at all similar, it would likely be the specific implementation that mattered to provide a more natural interface than the at times stiff Microsoft approach.
No guarantee exists that any Apple research on the track would lead to a shipping product, and it could be part of a development that takes years to become real, much as Apple's tablet research was sidelined for the iPhone and would only return three years later. [via 9to5]