Apple has patented a 3D display system (via AppleInsider) that uses a familiar mirror box-type design, but that works with digital images instead of physical objects like those you might find in novelty stores, and that also incorporates 3D gesture-based input from a user for control.
The 3D display would project a sort of hologram image above a light source using a UFO-shaped combination of two parabolic mirrors. That projected image could then be manipulated and interacted with by a user, with touch-based input detected via lasers built into the display device. These lasers would relay data about when and where their path is broken, which would then be interpreted by an on-board processor and translated into interaction data.
3D hologram-style displays aren’t new, and other big tech companies including Microsoft as seen above, have pursued similar designs in the past. Apple’s tech doesn’t seem anywhere close to the stage where you might see it incorporated into mobile devices like the iPhone, but it does present an interest reference design for a potential future peripheral.
With Amazon supposedly set to release a smartphone with some 3D display functionality, it is interesting timing for this application to come to light. Still, any iHologram is probably years away from seeing the light of day, if indeed it ever does.