The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple a patent that allows users to interface with computers far beyond our current mice, keyboards, or motion controllers. According to Patently Apple, the patent was acquired from Canadian inventor Timothy Pryor and covers "electro-optical determination of temporary surface distortion caused by the physical input signal."
The patent is dubbed "5D" in that force-vector direction and magnitude of force is added to touch. The technology does not require special touchscreen to work, so the input device or screen can be made of any material. The patent also includes tactile feedback, 3D sensing capability, and the ability to detect complex figures.
The technology focuses on television-related applications and the patent includes optional stereoscopic 3D glasses. All told, Apple's patent could allow for 3D motion controls far surpassing the information that Microsoft's Kinect can currently. Could Apple upend gaming and television interfaces like it did the mobile market?
The full patent documentation can be found here.