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Apple Patent Hints at Motion Control for Macs, Apple TV

Like a Jedi reaching out to magically control objects, you may be able to swipe your hand to control your Apple device soon. Apple has obtained a patent for "three dimensional user interface session control," or the use of 3D gestures to control on-screen activities.

The US Patent No. 8933876 details Apple's plans for creating a user interface controlled by hand and arm gestures via PrimeSense's motion-sensing hardware. A 3D camera is used to track the user's movements, which are them translated into digital commands that control on-screen actions. Some of the gestures include push and wave motions that can do things like minimize windows on the screen.

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The patent shows that the gesture controls can be turned on and off depending on the current mode of the user interface. This would allow users to save battery life and avoid unwanted actions caused by random movements.

The diagrams show the technology used with a desktop computer, but it could also be used with Apple TV or with iOS devices. This technology seems similar to the Leap Motion device, Xbox Kinect and Intel's RealSense 3D camera. However, most of the current talk around RealSense is its use in gaming and scanning real-life objects for 3D printing.

Apple seems to want to use 3D gestures more universally, as a way to control complete user interfaces. The company's acquisition of PrimeSense and all its patents last year will certainly make it easier to follow through on this patent.

Valentina Palladino is a senior writer for Tom's Guide. Follow her at @valentinalucia. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide and on Facebook.