Apple imagines animated 3D Maps with rippling water, realtime reflections

Posted:
in iPhone edited October 2015
Apple Maps might reach a new level of immersion if Apple opts to integrate newly patented technology that animates water, foliage and other dynamic objects based on touch, motion and sound.


Source: USPTO


Apple's U.S. Patent No. 9,147,286, granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday, details techniques for enhancing a three-dimensional photorealistic map, such as Apple Maps' Flyover feature, by assigning animation assets to specific map elements. For example, regions defined as "bodies of water" might be tagged for a ripple wave effect, which would be contextually generated based on a variety of inputs.

Like Flyover, Apple's animation tech relies on camera captured images (CCIs), or geotagged pictures snapped by satellites, aircraft, ground vehicles or roving humans. Using a CCI's geolocation metadata, the mapping service can render a texture map by correlating specific pixels with positions on a 3D model. Shaders are then applied to render a desired animation, for example water ripples.




Instead of turning animations on full time, Apple taps into iPhone's sensor suite to inform dynamically generated effects. In some embodiments ripples form as the result of finger gestures. A panning operation might trigger a rolling wave, for example, while a tap could cause ripples to radiate out from a user's finger.

To enhance the illusion, water and other map assets can be animated based on motion, with waves forming when a user shifts an iPhone's position, orientation or tilt. Apple even describes a method by which map elements react to sound captured by an onboard microphone. Further, by treating bodies of water as a light source, buildings and surrounding static surfaces can come alive with real-time reflections.




Apple offers foliage as a second element prime for animation, with swaying trees and leaves triggered by gestures, motion or other user input. The document goes on to detail technical considerations and potential rollout scenarios using existing hardware systems.

It is not clear if Apple plans to implement a comprehensive Flyover animation engine, a process partially started with moving landmarks like London's Big Ben clock tower and the nearby London Eye ferris wheel. For now, however, it seems the Maps development team is focusing on functional add-ons, the most recent being transit navigation in iOS 9.

Apple's animated 3D maps patent was first filed for in March 2013 and credits Patrick S. Piemonte, Erik Anders Mikael Adlers and Christopher Blumenberg as its inventors.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 40
    If you tilt the phone could you drain the water from the sea and give you free sight to the sea floor?
    :D
  • Reply 2 of 40
    Soylent Green
  • Reply 3 of 40
    This is why I buy Apple!
  • Reply 4 of 40
    The article pulled me in to learn what the Apple engineers were contemplating for Apple Maps. This word, "Shaders", triggered thoughts of Metal. The rest of the sentence solicited my thoughts, "are then applied to render a desired animation, for example water ripples." I am looking forward to seeing this technology added to Apple Maps. It could be a feature the puts more distance between Apple, its main maps competitor and fast followers who will not be fast enough to keep up. With continued improvements to Apple Maps core functionality, 3D technology will make Apple Maps an even stronger product.
  • Reply 5 of 40
    These patents are getting nuts. Can you imagine if this was game design? No other game could have rippling water or breezy trees, when interacted with?
  • Reply 6 of 40
    This is one of the growing reasons why I'm getting fed up with Apple. They're pouring resources into an aspect of maps that has very limited practicality. Yes, it's pretty. Yes, it will be made even prettier and I'll sure as hell be impressed with it graphically. But Google is still far ahead in terms of basic mapping and directions (maps of interiors, turn lanes, better traffic updates/integration, better business and routing data, more readable UI, ability to pan around a map during directions, etc.). I really wish they would up their game in terms of the basics before continuing to tinker with cosmetics in this case.
  • Reply 7 of 40
    At some point in the future, maps will probably be dynamically generated based on whatever live sources of information are in the area and rendered instead of relying on pre rendered models. Remember, as we approach an era of true artificial intelligence it will be possible for software to understand what it is "looking at" from a myriad of inputs and instead of presenting static models, it will have updates that reflect things happening the moment you need to view it. So, you'll summon a view of the Eiffel Tower and the map view will include the pigeons settled on a nearby statue and a cluster of cars moving through the area.
  • Reply 8 of 40
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,241member

    Cool... Could we get flyover in cities under two million please?

  • Reply 9 of 40
    cornchip wrote: »
    Cool... Could we get flyover in cities under two million please?

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say "not soon".
  • Reply 10 of 40
    Maybe base the ripple effects on wind speed?
  • Reply 11 of 40
    herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,221member
    They need to expand coverage a lot more first.
  • Reply 12 of 40
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,413member

    That's neat...although, it is a bit ironic that Apple is striving to make this feature more true to life, while having spent the

    last few years making their UI's, generally, more 'mechanical' or 'sterile'...or, you can use words like 'modern' and 'clean', 

    if it makes you feel better.

  • Reply 13 of 40
    cornchip wrote: »
    Cool... Could we get flyover in cities under two million please?
    I'm going to go out on a limb and say "not soon".

    Yes, afterall, they need to make it look pretty before they improve the accuracy and coverage.
  • Reply 14 of 40
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mobius View Post







    Yes, afterall, they need to make it look pretty before they improve the accuracy and coverage.



    Yeah, because they have a single team doing the same thing on Apple Maps and because they filed for a copyright, it means that they are all working on it and neglecting everything else. Damn them! Stupid, biggest, most well known and profitable company in the world, when will they learn?

  • Reply 15 of 40
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member

    Meh. I can deal with unmoving trees and water until its real live satellite video.

  • Reply 16 of 40
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,115member

    This would be fucking awesome, especially if these effects reflected the realtime weather of the locations. Conceptually, it can easily be done. 

     

    I absolutely love what Apple has done with flyover, in spite of all the bitching and whining that its "useless" and a "gimmick", and people wishing it was streetview. This concept is infinitely more flexible and scalable. 

  • Reply 17 of 40
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,463member
    This is all very nice. Useful? Well, that's something else.
  • Reply 18 of 40
    tommy0guns wrote: »
    These patents are getting nuts. Can you imagine if this was game design? No other game could have rippling water or breezy trees, when interacted with?

    Typically a patent has to be pretty will defined and it's probably specific to actual maps and satellite data to prevent competitors like Google from ripping them off. Your games are safe.
  • Reply 19 of 40
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,463member
    mobius wrote: »

    Yes, afterall, they need to make it look pretty before they improve the accuracy and coverage.

    Apple has taken a lot of mapping work in-house since the disaster of the initial release. But, it needs to be remembered that Apple hasn't been responsible for their mapping data, that's Tom Tom. Apple just renewed their licensing of that data. I think it was a mistake to not buy the mapping division of Nokia earlier this year instead. For such an important function to them, another $3.5 billion, particularly since it would be from overseas cash, that amount would be nothing. Then it could all be done in-house.

    But from what I've read, Apple now has several hundred people working on upgrading mapping data.
  • Reply 20 of 40
    evilution wrote: »

    Yeah, because they have a single team doing the same thing on Apple Maps and because they filed for a copyright, it means that they are all working on it and neglecting everything else. Damn them! Stupid, biggest, most well known and profitable company in the world, when will they learn?

    Good thing they have all these armchair CEOs here to tell them what's what. Am I right?
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