What do Apple’s iPhone Patent Applications Mean for the Future of Social Gaming?

Recently Microsoft announced some pretty advanced gaming technology at E3. We saw the power of Project Natal with its motion capture, voice recognition, and even facial recognition capabilities. While this is going to change the face of gaming (social or otherwise) for the console, Apple has been up to some curious experiments as well.

While it’s obviously not looking to compete in the console wars, Apple is continuing to push development of the iPhone. Recent patent applications reveal some interesting directions the company is going.

objectrecognitionThe first patent pending is perhaps one of the coolest. It’s summarized as real world object identification. If you recall the Microsoft presentation at E3, Natal scanned real world objects through its camera. Although similar in essence, the Apple patent is actually closer to Nokia’s Point & Find service. It allows the phone’s camera to recognize objects in the real world through RFID tags, barcodes, and so on.

Unfortunately, it will only read text information on the object. But a future rendition will likely be much more similar to that of Project Natal, allowing developers to create a variety of new kinds of gaming experiences on the iPhone.

The next patent on the list is also interesting: face detection and recognition in order to enable features such as access privileges and restrictions. As far as social gaming goes, the possibilities are staggering. You could have avatars that can recognize you and correlate between names, voices, and faces. The Milo demonstration from E3 demonstrates similar concepts.

Other, less powerful patents have also been filed. One is message filtering for both e-mail and text messaging. It will help with everything from profanity to spam. Smarter messaging interfaces will let you know if you have unread messages from a user you are sending outgoing communications to.

voiceoutputAnother focuses on changing voice output on the iPhone. At first, this seems a bit odd. But according to the official patent application, there are reasons someone may wish to use it. “A mother, for example, might wish to change the narrator’s voice in a pre-recorded, commercially available audiobook to her own voice, so that her child can listen to the audiobook as narrated in the mother’s voice in her absence,” the patent said. “In another scenario, a student listening to a lecture as a podcast file might want to change the audio of certain sections of the lecture to sound like someone else’s voice, so as to emphasize important parts of the lecture.”

Celebrity voices, downloadable voices, and voice alteration could be really interesting aspects of future game development.

Each patent brings something significant to the iPhone. With concepts such as object recognition, face recognition, and even voice changing, the possibilities are quite vast. In the end, however, it doesn’t matter what the patents say these could be used for. As always, the real impressive applications will come from the game creators themselves.

[via Unwired View]