Like Apple, Facebook has been Granted 2 Patents in August relating to Future Accessories for High-End Mixed Reality Headsets
Earlier this month, Patently Apple posted a couple of Apple's granted patents relating to possible future Mixed Reality accessories in the form of rings and standalone finger mounted devices and/or a glove with a few patent figures from those reports presented below.
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At this point it's obvious that Zuckerberg's Meta is going to be one of Apple's key competitors for future of high-end headsets with breakthrough display technology for a wide range of applications for gaming, education, business, social media and beyond.
Just as with Apple's recent granted patents for smart rings and finger mounted devices as standalone devices or in the form of a glove, Facebook was also granted a pair of patents relating to MR Headset accessories in various forms in August thus far.
In Facebook's first granted patent we're first introduced to a series of AR related devices and accessories starting with patent FIG. 1 below illustrating a rather futuristic AR headband.
Facebook's patent FIG. 1 illustrated below presents system #100 that may include a frame (#102) and a camera assembly (#104) that is coupled to the frame and configured to gather information about a local environment by observing the local environment.
The AR system may also include one or more audio devices, such as output audio transducers (#108(A) and #108(B)) and input audio transducers (#110). Output audio transducers may provide audio feedback and/or content to a user, and input audio transducers may capture audio in a user's environment.
As shown, the augmented-reality system may not necessarily include a Near-Eye Device (NED) positioned in front of a user's eyes. Augmented-reality systems without NEDs may take a variety of forms, such as head bands, hats, hair bands, belts, watches, wrist bands, ankle bands, rings, neckbands, necklaces, chest bands, eyewear frames, and/or any other suitable type or form of apparatus.
While the augmented-reality system may not include an NED, the AR system may include other types of screens or visual feedback devices (e.g., a display screen integrated into side of frame #102).
Facebook's patent FIG. 4 above presents accessories including a glove and wrist-band devices. FIG. 4 illustrates a vibrotactile system #400 in the form of a wearable glove (haptic device #410) and wristband (haptic device #420). The Haptic examples of wearable devices that include a flexible, wearable textile material (#430) that is shaped and configured for positioning against a user's hand and wrist, respectively.
Facebook's patent FIGS. 10A and 10D are examples of pinch-style gestures for the smart gloves that the controller will translate into various actions or access certain features.
Facebook's patent FIG. 5 below illustrates an Oculus style device working with the new accessories (glove and wristband); In patent FIG. 6, we're able to see that Facebook's future AR Glasses could be accompanied by a smart wristband or watch accessory that will assist in translating a user's hand and/or finger pinch gesture commands.
Not to be limited to glove and wristband accessories, Facebook's patent reveals that their overall artificial-reality system may include other types of devices such as a body suit, handheld controllers, environmental devices (e.g., chairs, floormats, etc.), and/or any other type of device or system.
For more details on this, review Facebook's first granted patent 11,416,075.
Suspend Mode Feature for Mixed Reality Systems
In Facebook's second granted patent they describe a suspend mode feature for artificial reality systems that generates a suspend mode environment during execution of an artificial reality application that presents and controls user interface (UI) elements within the suspend mode environment.
The suspend mode feature enables a user interacting with one or more other users (or one or more avatars corresponding to the one or more other users) within an artificial reality (AR) environment to suspend the AR environment from the user's perspective.
While in the suspend mode environment, the user is able to view and select the other users from the AR environment. For example, the user may select another user to friend, message, mute, block, or report that user from the suspend mode environment.
In one or more example aspects, an artificial reality system includes a head-mounted display (HMD) configured to output artificial reality content to a user of the HMD, wherein the artificial reality content includes one or more avatars corresponding to one or more other users participating in an artificial reality environment; and a suspend mode engine configured to, in response to user input, enable a suspend mode environment for the user of the HMD, wherein the suspend mode engine at least one of replaces the artificial reality environment with the suspend mode environment at the HMD, mutes the one or more avatars and the artificial reality environment at the HMD, or renders the one or more avatars in static positions within the suspend mode environment.
The first two patent figures below (2A and 2B) represent styles of Mixed Reality eyewear in the form of an HMD and Smartglasses; FIG. 1A is an illustration depicting an example artificial reality system having a suspend mode feature. In some examples, the suspend mode feature may be referred to as a safe mode or safe zone feature. Artificial reality (AR) system #10 includes head mounted device (HMD), a console #106 (FIG. 3), artificial reality application server #107 (FIG. 3), and, in some examples, one or more external sensors #90.
Facebook's patent FIG. 3 above is a block diagram showing example implementations of a console, an artificial reality application server, and an HMD of the artificial reality system that generates a suspend mode environment during execution of an artificial reality application.
For more details, review Facebook's granted patent 11,416,067. Going forward Patently Apple / Patently Mobile will be covering more Facebook patents on Metaverse eyewear and accessories going forward.
At present, Patently Apple has posted 360+ patent reports relating to future features for Apple's headsets without really having an overview of their overall mission, which is to be expected.
Though to be sure, Apple's entry into the world of Mixed Reality is going to be a massive endeavor. It's also likely to spark a war with Meta right out of the gate.
Yet with any new product category, it may take some time before consumers / Apple fans jump in. The initial barrier is likely to be the cost of these advanced headsets, something that CNBC posted an extensive report on yesterday titled "Apple and Meta headsets could face a big challenge: Sticker shock."
Yet beyond endless evolutionary iPhone upgrades, we'll finally be getting an exciting new product category to explore from hardware to new user interfaces to new applications and accessories. I can't wait for the journey and the category war to begin. How about you?