Apple Reveals Finger Sensor Devices for Future HMDs & Glasses to assist users touch & control Objects in AR/VR Environments & Beyond
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to systems with electronic devices such as finger-mounted electronic devices that are to be used with Apple's future HMD and smartglasses. Apple has been working on this for some time and Patently Apple has covered a series of future finger devices for use with AR/VR headsets and/or glasses that you could review here: 01, 02, 03, 04 and 05.
Apple's invention published today covers a system that may include electronic devices that are finger devices configured to be worn on fingers of users in conjunction with Augmented Reality (AR) and Augmented Virtuality (VR) head mounted devices and glasses.
The finger devices may include sensors. As a user interacts with a real-world object in the environment surrounding the user, one or more sensors may be used to measure information on real-world-object physical attributes associated with the real-world object.
The physical attributes that are measured may include attributes such as a surface contour, a texture, an object color or other visual attribute, a temperature, acoustic attributes, force-versus-distance characteristics, weight, and/or other physical attributes.
The measured physical attributes may be used to recreate the physical behavior of a portion of a sampled physical object for a user. For example, a sampled texture may be overlaid on a part of an object being presented in a computer-generated reality environment.
During presentation of computer-generated content, visual content, audio content, haptic content, and/or other content may be presented that includes measured visual attributes, audio attributes, haptic attributes, and/or other sampled physical attributes of a real-world object. Content may be presented using a head-mounted device, haptic devices and other output devices in finger devices, and/or other output devices in the electronic devices.
Position sensors such as inertial measurement units and other sensors that can detect motion and location, force sensors, image sensors, and other sensors may be used in gathering measurements of real-world object physical attributes as a user interacts with the physical world.
Haptic output may be used, for example, to provide the fingers of a user with a desired texture sensation as a user is touching a real object or as a user is touching a virtual object. Haptic output can also be used to create detents and other haptic effects, to create force feedback that makes virtual objects that are hovering in space appear real to the touch.
Beyond an HMD or glasses, each finger device may be worn on a finger that could interact with a MacBook (a laptop computer), an iMac (computer monitor containing an embedded computer), an iPad (a tablet computer), an iPhone (a cellular telephone), a smaller device such as Apple Watch (a wristwatch device), a headphone or earpiece device, a head-mounted device, a television, a gaming device, a remote control, a navigation device, an embedded system such as a system in which equipment is mounted in a kiosk, in an automobile, airplane, or other vehicle.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 below is a top view of an illustrative finger of a user on which a finger device has been placed; FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative finger device on the finger of a user; FIG. 4 is a top view of an illustrative head-mounted device having support structures configured to support a display and sensors such as a forward facing camera and gaze tracker.
Apple's patent FIG. 5 above is a perspective view of an illustrative real-world object with which a user is interacting while gathering measurements and/or receiving output using a finger device; FIG. 16 is a flow chart of illustrative operations associated with operating a system with electronic devices.
Apple's patent FIGS. 6, 7, 8, and 9 below are diagrams showing how illustrative finger devices may be used in gathering measurements on real-world objects;
Apple's patent FIG. 10 above is a diagram of a real-world object with a movable mechanism such as a button that is being measured using an illustrative finger device.
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.