(WIRED) -- Forget relying solely on touch to control your Apple device. On future iPads, you may be able to control your tablet from across the room using 3-D gestures, such as a swirl or swipe of the hand.
As suggested by a newly uncovered Apple patent, you would be able to manipulate and control graphical elements on your display, such as icons, media files, text and images. The gestures themselves could take many forms: geometric shapes (e.g., a half-circle or square), symbols (like a check mark or question mark), the letters of the alphabet, and other sorts of predetermined patterns.
One interesting application the patent highlights is video annotation and editing via a gesture-based toolbar. The toolbar would provide pre-set options for beginners, but would also allow more advanced users to customize their own gestures.
A previously discovered patent indicates that Apple could be working on an integrated projector for iDevices that would incorporate physical gestures as a method to manipulate a projected image. This newer patent, however, focuses more on the gestures themselves and other ways they could be used to control onscreen images and video. There's no mention of Siri or combining voice control with physical gestures.
The 3-D gesture-capturing method would employ a device's front-facing camera. The iPad 2, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S all include a front-facing camera, so if Apple, say, decided to integrate this feature in an upcoming version of iOS, it's possible that legacy iDevice models could employ the technology as well.
That said, the patent does suggest that older iPhones may not have enough processing power for the gesture-capturing workload, as it shows a way to transfer video from the iPhone to an iPad for more advanced editing options.
The patent pre-defines a number of gestures, such as ones for facial recognition, a selection gesture and a pointing gesture (to identify a specific section of an onscreen image).
The patent was originally filed in mid-2010.
Subscribe to WIRED magazine for less than $1 an issue and get a FREE GIFT! Click here!
Copyright 2011 Wired.com.