Future iPhones may be able to read sign language and perform various other cool functions if a new patent filed by Apple comes to fruition. The document covers the potentials of a new depth-sensing approach to 3D mapping which would allow one or more cameras to sense precisely where a hand is positioned.
In the paper, Apple emphasizes the importance of understanding hand gestures for the future of Human-computer interaction (HCI). According to the company, this skill is vital and can be used across a wide field of applications. For instance, a person may be able to draw without touching the screen and control an iPhone without laying a finger on it.
This hand tracking technology is supposed to keep a track of the three-dimensional location of hands in a video stream no matter what the background is. Apple further talks about a unique ID which would be assigned to each hand if there is more than one. The patent also suggests more far-reaching uses of this tool such as pose and gesture detection by analysis of each finger.
If Apple actually manages to develop this technology in a future iPhone, it could be a boon to people who use sign language as a primary means of communication. As Patently Apple has pointed out, the manufacturer has a long history with 3D mapping. The technology is the building block towards future goals of virtual reality experiences and 3D photos and videos.
Another recent patent application by Apple for a dual-camera setup threw open the possibility of the upcoming iPhone 7 being equipped with 3D depth mapping. The lenses could be used for a number of abilities such as producing accurate 3D models of objects.