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Apple granted patent covering '5D' technology

People have barely sunk their teeth into 3D programming, and already Apple is seeking a patent for advanced electronics that could unleash 5D technology onto the world.

The US Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday published 25 newly granted patents for the firm, Patently Apple reported, but none are quite as wild as the one that covers advanced television, interactive gaming, teleconferencing, tactile feedback technology, virtual reality data gloves, and five dimensions of entertainment.

Some pieces of the patent date back to 1999, but the patent was granted after being refiled in July 2009.

The sweeping patent touches on technology with "four" and "five dimensional" capabilities, as well as the ability to store complete signature data at once, physically or in memory.

Most of Apple's new patent focuses on projection TV technology and applications, and covers optional 3D glasses for stereoscopic TV viewing or using a television set for teleconferencing, Patently Apple said. The patent shows the technology being used in the context of a rear projection display device – DLP, LCD, or LCoS – but the concepts can be used in developing any sort of display device.

Apple's gain could be put to use in future incarnations of the Apple TV, which has grown in sales since last year – 1.3 million units were sold during the third quarter, CEO Tim Cook announced during Tuesday's earnings report. But the company isn't necessarily focused on building a TV empire. Cook said the device is still a "hobby" for Apple, though the product has champions within the company who think "it will lead us somewhere," he said.

There have been many rumours this year about Apple developing its own TV set, but thus far, the company has made no announcements.

According to the patent, the new technology is extremely cost competitive with other touch-screen or data-entry techniques, particularly on larger surfaces. The available resolution in these surfaces – one meter square or larger – is unmatched, the patent said.

The technology is "easily capable" of multi-point operation, which could be effective in a vehicle, where a driver should be focused on the road but can also touch a device anywhere to complete a command.