The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 42 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we briefly cover two eye-tracking/eye-gazing system inventions and one HMD patent that covers a mechanical methodology of cleaning eyewear displays from particles or debris automatically. And as always, we wrap up this week's granted patent report with our traditional listing of the remaining granted patents that were issued to Apple today.
Particle Control for Head Mounted Device Displays
Apple notes that components of a head-mountable device can include one or more optical modules that provide images and/or views (e.g., to an external environment). Such optical modules can include a display element and/or optical elements that enhance a user's view by clearing particles or debris from the lenses automatically.
The quality of the view provided by the optical module can be dependent on the clarity of the optical pathway between the source of the image and the eye of the user. For example, particles (e.g., dust, debris, foreign object, and/or other materials) along the optical pathway can obstruct, distort, and/or otherwise adversely affect the view provided to the user.
In particular, where a display element includes a high-resolution display, such particles on a surface of the display element can block entire pixels and/or multiple pixels, such that the image transmitted to the user is altered from its intended form.
Particles can collect along the optical pathway during the lifespan of the head-mountable device. An optical module can be sealed to prevent and/or limit ingress of substantially all particles from an external environment. However, even when an internal chamber of an optical module is sealed, particles can migrate from within the chamber due to degradation, erosion, friction, wear, and/or aging of components. When such particles are generated and/or released, they may collect on the display element and/or another optical element along the optical pathway.
Systems of the present disclosure can provide a head-mountable device with an optical module that removes particles from an optical pathway and captures the particles so they do not interfere with the user's view of and/or through optical elements. For example, the display element and/or another optical element can be moved in a manner that releases particles on a viewing surface.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 illustrates an HMD; FIG. 3 illustrates a sectional view of an optical module of the head-mountable device.
Further, in patent FIG. 3, an optical module can provide visual output for viewing by a user. It will be understood that separate optical modules can be provided for each of the user's two eyes. Each of the optical modules can be adjusted to align with the corresponding eye of the user. For example, one or more module actuators #150 can be provided to move the optical module relative to the frame of the head-mountable device. By further example, each optical module can move along a rail #152 shown below.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 11,327,316
Two Head Mounted Device (HMD) Patents Granted to Apple Today
Granted Patent 11,330,241: Title "Focusing for virtual and augmented reality systems." The patent covers yet another gaze/eye tracking system.
Apple's granted patent covers various embodiments of methods and apparatus for focusing in virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) devices based on gaze tracking information. Embodiments of a VR/AR device such as a headset, helmet, goggles, or glasses (referred to herein as a head-mounted display (HMD)) are described that include a display mechanism (e.g., left and right near-eye display panels) for displaying frames including left and right images in front of a user's eyes to thus provide 3D virtual views to the user. The HMD may include left and right optical lenses (referred to herein as eye lenses) located between the display and the user's eyes. For AR applications, the HMD may include or be coupled to one or more external video cameras that capture video of the user's environment for display. The HMD may include a controller that may, for example, render frames for display to the left and right displays.
AR HMDs may have external cameras linked to closed circuit display panels. Note that the external cameras may be attached to the HMD, or alternatively may be at a remote location for telepresence applications. The external cameras may include an autofocus mechanism that allows the cameras to automatically focus on objects or surfaces in the environment. However, in conventional HMDs, the autofocus mechanism may focus on something that the user is not looking at. In embodiments of an HMD as described in the patent, for AR applications, the controller may use the gaze tracking information obtained from the gaze tracking system to direct the autofocus mechanism of the external cameras to focus in the direction of the user's gaze so that the external cameras focus on objects in the environment at which the user is currently looking. The controller may estimate the user's point of gaze on the display based on the gaze tracking information obtained from the gaze tracking system.
The point of gaze estimated from the information captured by the gaze tracking system may be used to determine the direction in which the user is looking. The controller may then direct the external cameras to focus in the determined direction. The autofocus mechanism of the external cameras may then focus the camera lenses on an object or surface in the environment that the user is currently looking at on the display.
Apple's patent FIG. 1E below illustrates focusing eye lenses in VR HMDS based at least in part on gaze tracking information; IG. 2 shows a side view of an example HMD that implements a gaze tracking system; and FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating components of an example VR/AR system that includes a gaze tracking system.
Granted Patent 11,327,561: Title "Display system." This patent covers another eye-tracking system. Apple's patent FIG. 2 below illustrates an optical system with two display panels per eye that are viewed through a beam-splitting eyepiece
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The Remaining Patents Granted to Apple Today