iPad 3 Release Date: Specs Leak - Hands-Free Controls to be Unveiled?

A recently published patent application filed by Apple indicates that the next iPad tablet, the iPad 3, will come with hands-free controls.

The patent application, which was published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, presents a visual interpretation of the controls. Apple filed for this technology patent back in the second quarter of 2010.

Owners of Apple's next iPad device may be able to control cursors, icons, files, lists, text, images, etc. with various hand signals. Users would use several specific hand gesture animations to manipulate any number of the tablet's activities.

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iPad elements such as check marks or question marks, letters or pre-set patterns, a pattern set by the user and combinations of these actions would be manipulated.

These hands-free controls would possibly allow users to interact with their iPad 3 device from a short distance.

Also shown on the Apple patent is an advanced gesturing-based video editing toolbar.

This option would also allow users to film videos with their iPad 3 tablet through hand signals.

The patent doesn't showcase any incorporation with iPhone 4S's Siri feature, however. The 3D gesture controls combined with Siri would make for an interesting option for iPad 3 owners, though.

Patently Apple noted that older Apple gadgets might not have the processing power to support this new technology.

The iPad is rumored to be arriving in March of next year.

According to Japanese tech blog Makotakara, Apple is rushing production of its next generation tablet due to Chinese New Year celebrations starting Jan. 22. They cited "a reliable Asian source" for the information.

The tech blog's source also said that factories in China are gearing up to produce the iPad 3 by the end of January.

The new tablet is expected to include a redesigned dock connector that features the same number of pins, but a smaller shape than the iPad 2.

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