It's hardly the Enterprise's holodeck. But a 3D system envisioned in a new Apple patent filing could bring us one step closer to a more immersive environment that doesn't require special glasses.
Published on Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, a patent filing dubbed "Interactive Three-Dimensional Display System" highlights a way of letting you touch and handle 3D images floating around in the air.
Described in the patent filing as "hologram-like illusions," the images would be generated by a laser projection system or similar equipment. The optical system would use parabolic mirrors or lenses to project those images. Built-in sensors would record specific gestures, such as a swipe or pinch, and then update the images accordingly.
By updating those images based on your interaction, the system would enable you to touch, manipulate, and control those 3D items in mid-air.
Apple certainly isn't the only company trying to cook up such interactive 3D hologram-like displays. Demoed in 2011, a Microsoft Research project called Vermeer showed off a 360-degree 3D system through which you could interact with the images on display.