Apple has been awarded a new patent this week called “Working with 3D objects” that describes a way for users to both generate and manipulate 3D objects. The function would work on a touch-sensitive surface, such as an iPad, and would allow the device to detect fingers based on their location and proximity to the screen. So, essentially, you can touch your fingers to a 2D image and conjure a 3D image up like some digital snake charmer. The graphics above show how this might be achieved.

Rather than pinching on an image, which is a gesture familiar for 2D imagery, Apple’s new patent might allow users to pull or lift objects away from a device’s surface.

“A user can hover for a predetermined amount of time to trigger the extrusion, which will generate a triangular prism with a cross section corresponding to the 2D triangle and a height proportional to how far a users “pulled” their fingers from the screen,” AppleInsider explains.

This would then be compounded by a gesture to end the execution, possibly by a user spreading their fingers. AppleInsider goes much further in depth into the exposed patent, which could become an important tool for 3D modeling and such. Gesture technology—Leap Motion, Kinect, etc.—is becoming a priority among companies, though bringing it to tablets would be entirely different. This is one of those patents that sounds terrific on paper, but likely won’t filter down to any existing Apple lineups anytime soon.