Apple Invents a Headset with a transitioning face-side cover that darkens when viewing VR content & transparent for AR content
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published two patent applications from Apple that relate to their future Mixed Reality Head Mounted Device. In the first patent, Apple has invented a transparent member that sits over the face of the headset that when dark is used to view content like games and when the transparent member is clear, it allows the user to view the real-world environment that could be augmented.
Apple notes that challenges can arise in incorporating optical sensors into electronic devices such as a Head Mounted Device (HMD). If care is not taken, stray light from a light-emitting device can create noise for a light-detecting device. This can adversely affect optical sensor accuracy.
Apple's invention relates to a head-mounted device that may have a transparent member supported by head-mounted support structures. The transparent member may cover the front of a head-mounted device and may overlap eye boxes where a user's eyes receive images from a display in the electronic device.
Sensors may be used to make measurements of the environment surrounding a user of the head-mounted device. In some configurations, displayed images may be overlaid on top of real-world images. Transparent members may also be incorporated into handheld devices and other equipment.
A transparent member for a head-mounted device or other equipment may be formed from a layer of polymer or other material. Optical sensors such as time-of-flight sensors and other optical sensors may have light-emitting components and light-detecting components.
The optical sensors may be configured to operate through the transparent member. For example, a light-emitting component may emit light through transparent member and a light-detecting component may detect light that has passed through the transparent member.
A stray light blocking structure may be formed from a protrusion and/or a recess in the transparent member. The stray light blocking structure may be configured to block stray light that is traveling laterally through an interior portion of the polymer layer. This prevents the stray light that has been emitted from a light-emitting device and coupled into the interior of the polymer layer from being received by a light-detecting detecting device.
For example, an elongated strip-shaped stray light blocking structure that runs down the center of a polymer layer on the front of a head-mounted display may prevent stray light interference between the first and second time-of-flight sensors located respectively on opposing sides of the stray light blocking structure.
FIG. 3 is a front view of member 30 in an illustrative configuration in which device 10 includes optical components such as component 52. There may be any suitable number of components #52 in the HMD device from one to fewer than 25.
As shown in FIG. 3 above, illustrative stray light blocking structures #54 may be placed at locations in member 30 that laterally surround some or all of a light-emitting component, that laterally surround some or all of a light-detecting component, and/or that otherwise intervene between a light-emitting component and a light-detecting component.
When structures #54 are incorporated into transparent member #30, stray light from a light-emitting device is blocked (e.g., redirected and/or absorbed) before interfering with the measurements made by a light-detecting component, thereby enhancing sensor performance.
When the user isn't viewing content (a game, 3D content) the transparent member could be clear allowing the user to view the real-word environment that they're in.
In virtual reality arrangements, the HMD may include lenses or other optical system components and a display such as display to provide virtual content to a user (e.g., still and/or moving images such as computer-generated content, etc.).
In augmented reality arrangements, a forward-facing camera (e.g., a camera supported by the housing and/or member #30) may gather images of the real world for presentation to the user's display.
Apple's patent application that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in Q2 2019. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
Apple's inventors include James Wilson (Senior Product Design Engineer) and Anna Mirabella (Product Design Engineering Program Manager).
To review Apple's second Head Mounted Device patent published today read out report titled "Apple Invents a Lens Position Sensing System for a Headset that can adjust lens accuracy for different Face Profiles.