Apple’s New Patent Points To 3D Display, Voice Tech Systems

Apple has filed a patent application for a display system that uses three-dimensional imaging and audio feedback that it could someday use in its computers and handheld devices.

While the patent primarily focuses on visual images presented in 3D, there is mention of using some type of speech technology.

"A need…remains for uncomplicated, economical, yet highly effective 3D input devices for computers. To be effective, it is also important that such devices be capable, when desired or necessary, of economically but effectively and precisely providing feedback to the user. Thus, such devices should incorporate audio and/or visual mechanisms for reporting to the user the effects and results of the 3D input," the application claims.

As first reported by Slashgear, the unearthed patent give examples of the proposed technology that can be used on a computer mouse, touch pad, or be configured to generate an interactive virtual keyboard.

Voice technology powerhouse Nuance Communications could possibly help out on the audio end. Its Dragon Dictation and Dragon Search apps are already used on Apple’s  iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Nuance also has a hand in the iPhone 4s voice assistant, Siri, though the company isn't talking about it much. "The only thing we can say is that Apple licenses Nuance's speech technology for use in some of its products," said a company spokesperson regarding Siri.

The patent application comes on the heels of Microsoft's release of an upgraded version of Xbox 360, rolled out earlier this week, which uses motion detection and incorporates Kinnect, a sensor built on Microsoft's TellMe voice recognition technology.

With Kinect, Xbox users can navigate through entertainment, such as movies and games, and conduct Web searches with Bing, all via voice or gestures.

"We are witnessing the beginning of a revolution," said Thomas Soemo, principal program manager lead for the Xbox platform at Microsoft, in a statement. "Speech recognition is entering the mainstream."

It looks like someone at Apple was listening.

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