A newly discovered patent application filed by Apple hints at a 3D future for the company, with the potential to track the location of a user and adjust a 3D display according to their position.

According to the patent filed with the US Patent & Trademark Office the would-be device offers: "An electronic device for providing a display that changes based on the user's perspective is provided. The electronic device may include a sensing mechanism operative to detect the user's position relative a display of the electronic device."

MacRumors.com reports the so-called head-tracking technology appears to have sparked interest from Apple, despite being around in one form or another for many years.

The patent reported this week, but filed on 17 June 2008, offers more information. "For example, the electronic device may include a camera operative to detect the position of the user's head. Using the detected position, the electronic device may be operative to transform displayed objects such that the displayed perspective reflects the detected position of the user. The electronic device may use any suitable approach for modifying a displayed object, including for example a parallax transform or a perspective transform."

"In some embodiments, the electronic device may overlay the environment detected by the sensing mechanism (e.g., by a camera) to provide a more realistic experience for the user (e.g., display a reflection of the image detected by the camera on reflective surfaces of a displayed object)."

The Apple patent shows similarities with ideas put forward by Johnny Chung Lee, a researcher for Microsoft - Applied Sciences in 2007, highlighted in the YouTube video below.

Apple reportedly built "Hyper Reality" displays in the lab as far back as 1995 reports MacRumors.com

AppleInsider meanwhile, cites comparisons with Microsoft's 'Project Natal,' an unreleased video game accessory that aims to use full-body tracking through the use of cameras to allow a user's physical actions to be translated into Xbox 360 games.

The website notes Apple has previously filed patents highlighting 3D technology, a patent on new display hardware that would employ auto-stereoscopy to produce 3D in 2008, along with a 3D user interface for Mac OS X and 3D gaming controller for the Apple TV.

Images via AppleInsider.