Fans of the Minority Report movie remember how Tom Cruise operated the computer without touching anything. The system interpreted movement of his fingers and manipulated the interface as if he touched it. Apple's been thinking about this too and a patent granted the firm shows such an interface.
The patent describes a device that watches the user's hands and interprets movement to perform interaction with the interface. Movements interpreted by the system include hand motion, fingertip movements, and pen grip detection.
The system would also interpret the synchronized movements of multiple fingertips, allowing a deeper interaction than just moving fingers around. The Minority Report UI begins to come to life given the interaction described in the patent.
Apple says that "identification and classification of intuitive hand configurations and motions enables unprecedented integration of typing, resting, pointing, scrolling, 3D manipulation, and handwriting into a versatile, ergonomic computer input device". The patent thus provides a richly variant method of working an interface with just the hands.
We may never see such a system but fans of the movie might one day be happily surprised.