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Several Apple patent filings published this week allude to a multi-dimensional, 3D interface for Mac OS X that would increase the versatility of the screen space.
The filings, labeled “Multi-Dimensional Desktop”, were submitted back in June of last year, around the same time that Apple revealed the update for Mac OS X Snow Leopard. The diagrams below show what may be in store for Mac users.
Apple’s diagrams show a multidimensional desktop environment that include a back surface, including a “floor” that would contain the Mac OS X Dock and icons stacked horizontally like books in a library.
The example above shows the Dock behind 3D icons stacks sitting on the floor, but can also be brought closer to the viewing surface so that it’s in front of the icon stocks.
The 3D icon stacks would fan outwards, similar to today’s version of Mac OS X. They could also fan in a three-dimensional arch towards the center, to show depth.
A stack item could automatically appear, such as a new download in the Downloads folder.
The floor sprawls outwards, adding more depth perception. Apple was quoted as saying, “The floor surface can include a scroll ingress and a scroll egress in which a scroll direction transitions from the scroll ingress to the scroll egress.”
A lighting aspect could also be included to generation an illumination effect from thumbnails or widgets placed on the side walls, similar to that of a sunbeam.
Apple explains, “In one implementation, a maximum number of stack items can be displayed on the surface. If the addition of a new stack item causes the number of displayed stack items to be exceeded, then a stack item nearest a surface intersection can be displaced from the surface. For example, if the maximum number of stack items to be displayed is four, then [one of the stacks] can continue to move to the edge of the surface, where [it would be] displaced, e.g., fades from view, atomizes, etc."
Here are a few more examples of Apple’s multidimensional interface: