How Apple’s 3D tablet might work


Philip Elmer-DeWitt is a senior editor at Fortune.

An obscure patent by three Frenchmen describes a new way of controlling touchscreens

With speculation about the Apple (aapl) tablet computer rising to a fever pitch, Gus Sentementes at the
Baltimore Sun
has scored what may be an important scoop.

He's put his hands on a patent filing, recently assigned to Apple, that describes in detail a graphical user interface "for navigating three-dimensional virtual spaces and manipulating three-dimensional objects in the virtual spaces using simple finger gestures."

The descriptions of how this might work jibe with rumors that the tablet interacts with the user in a new and unusual way. Other rumors have described the tablet as utilizing 3D graphics.

The patent is available here. It was filed by three French citizens, Fabrice Robinet, Thomas Goossens and Alexandre Moha, at least two of whom now work at Apple.

According to the Patent Office, Apple obtained the rights to the patent in Sept. 2008.

You can read Sentementes's report here.

See also:

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. FORTUNE may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.

Quotes delayed at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Interactive Data. ETF and Mutual Fund data provided by Morningstar, Inc. Dow Jones Terms & Conditions: http://www.djindexes.com/mdsidx/html/tandc/indexestandcs.html. S&P Index data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. Powered and implemented by Interactive Data Managed Solutions