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Apple has won Headset related patents covering an Optical Module Positioning System and the Vision Pro's Nosepiece

1 over  Apple Vision Pro image

During Apple's WWDC23 Keynote introduce Apple Vision Pro, Mike Rockwell, VP, Technology Development Group revealed that their Spatial Computing headset was backed by 5,000 patents. So it's no wonder that the amount of Apple Vision Pro related patents are increasing by the week. While we covered four such patents earlier this week, today we're covering yet another two of them. The first patent covers optical module positioning systems while the second covers a nosepiece for Vision Pro.  

Electronic Devices With Optical Module Positioning Systems

Apple Vision Pro has displays for displaying images that are housed in optical modules. Lenses may be mounted in the optical modules. Images on the displays may be viewed through the lenses. Apple revealed back in June that for those with prescription lenses, users will be able to add Zeiss lenses to the headset.

(Click on image to Enlarge) 2 Apple uses Zeiss optical inserts

In this week's granted patent, Apple reveals that they may be working on their own custom lens system, though the extent of it is a little difficult to interpret. According to Apple, a head-mounted device may have optical modules that present images to a user's eyes. Each optical module may have a lens barrel with a display and a lens that presents an image from the display to a corresponding eye box.

To accommodate users with different interpupillary distances, the optical modules may be slidably coupled to guide members such as guide rods. Actuators may slide the optical modules towards or away from each other along the guide rods, thereby accommodating different interpupillary distances.

The guide rods may be formed from fiber-reinforced composite tubes with one or more end caps that are fastened to a frame in the head-mounted device. A common end cap may, if desired, be used to join a pair of guide rods. End caps may be formed as separate pieces that are attached to the ends of the fiber composite tubes or other guide rod structures and/or may be integral portions of the fiber composite tubes or other guide rod structures.

The guide rods may include a left guide rod or left pair of guide rods slidably engaged with a left optical module and a right guide rod or right pair of guide rods slidably engaged with a right optical module. Left and right guide rods may be angled at a non-zero angle with respect to each other to help guide the optical modules parallel to the surface of a user's face.

The tubes of the guide rods may be partly or completely filled with cores to add strength. Low-friction coatings such as metal coatings may be applied to the tubes and on corresponding inner surfaces of the optical module structures that receive the tubes.

Apple later notes that "the distance between the display elements #140 can be set based on an interpupillary distance (“IPD”) of the user.

To better understand IPD, Wikipedia notes that "Pupillary distance (PD), more correctly known as interpupillary distance (IPD) is the distance in millimeters between the centers of each pupil. Distance PD is the separation between the visual axes of the eyes in their primary position, as the subject fixates on an infinitely distant object.

Near PD is the separation between the visual axes of the eyes, at the plane of the spectacle lenses, as the subject fixates on a near object at the intended working distance. Intermediate PD is at a specified plane in between distance and near. Monocular PD refers to the distance between either the right or left visual axis to the bridge of the nose, which may be slightly different for each eye due to anatomical variations but always sums up to the binocular PD.

For people who need to wear prescription glasses, consideration of monocular PD measurement by an optician helps to ensure that the lenses will be located in the optimum position.

Whilst PD is an optometric term used to specify prescription eyewear, IPD is more critical for the design of binocular viewing systems, where both eye pupils need to be positioned within the exit pupils of the viewing system. These viewing systems include binocular microscopes, night vision devices or goggles (NVGs), and head-mounted displays (HMDs). IPD data are used in the design of such systems to specify the range of lateral adjustment of the exit optics or eyepieces."

Apple's patent further notes that not all users have the same interpupillary distance IPD. To provide their headset with the ability to adjust the interpupillary spacing between modules (#40 in FIG. 1 below) along lateral dimension X and thereby adjust the spacing IPD between eye boxes (#13 FIG. 1) to accommodate different user interpupillary distances, the headset may be provided with optical module positioning systems in housing (#12 FIG. 1). The positioning systems may have guide members and actuators (#43 FIG. 1) that are used to position optical modules (#40 FIG. 1) with respect to each other.

3 Apple optical patent figs

For more details, review Apple's granted patent 11714256. While Patently Apple has covered other patents related to prescription and/or interchangeable corrective lenses, today's patent is a little more difficult to interpret as to whether Apple is describing a system to correct mild IPD or full monocular IPD that acts as a prescription lens solution. Considering that Apple is using Zeiss for corrective lenses, the patent is likely designed to correct mild IPD, though only time will tell.  

Apple Vision Pro's Nosepiece Patent

4 Apple Vision Pro Nosepiece patent(Click on image to enlarge)

As we can see by this granted Apple Vision Nosepiece patent, they're patenting every inch of their design. Apple notes that "A head-mountable device can include a nosepiece that distributes forces away from a top of the nose to the sides of the nose. The nose contact elements of such nosepieces can be slideably and/or rotationally biased to apply forces to the sides of the nose when the head-mountable device is worn by a user. Such distribution allows forces to be spread across a greater area, which improves overall comfort, positioning, and light sealing of the head-mountable device."

Although it seems like a rather simple feature of the Apple Vision Pro, the patent is actually quite lengthy. Apple notes that "it can be desirable for a nosepiece to provide a proper fit to ensure alignment of the head-mountable device with the head of the user, including the eyes for observation of the display elements of the head-mountable device. It can also be desirable for a nosepiece to facilitate sealing so that light from an external environment does not enter into the region between the display elements and the eyes of the user.

For those wanting to investigate this feature further, review Apple's granted patent 11714453.

10.52FX - Granted Patent Bar


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