The entire world seems to be focused on Apple's upcoming September event where the rumor is that new iPhones will be revealed, as well as the never-ending hints that the company is developing a smartwatch. But while most of us are looking toward the obvious, Apple has just been granted a patent that may help it to push interface innovation even further ahead of its competition.
Applied for way back in 2010 and just approved this week, the patent details a dynamic that would allow a user of a tablet, presumably an iPad, to generate 3D objects from 2D objects using finger gestures. Although the patent doesn't mention holograms, one aspect of the patent's description indicates a kind of half step toward the era of holographic interfaces by getting users accustomed to manipulating 3D objects virtually.
Specifically, the patent describes an aspect of the interface mechanism in the following way:
"Detecting the 3D gesture input can include measuring a distance between the finger or the pointing device and a surface of the display. The 3D object can be modified according to the 3D gesture input, and the updated 3D object can be shown on the touch-sensitive display."
The illustration (see above) along with this passage appears to indicate a kind of interface control that we've seen in devices like the Leap Motion. But in the case of Apple's patent, it seems the interface would also allow the user to manipulate the 3D object via direct touch on the tablet's display.
It doesn't seem likely that we'll see this pop up in the Apple products announced this year, but the interface wizardry as envisioned by the company is definitely something to look forward to. You can read the full patent details here.