A Euro Patent Reveals Apple is working on an 8K Foveated Micro-Display for a Head-up Display, iDevice and beyond
A European patent filing from Apple that was originally filed in August 2017 surfaced publicly this week. The patent relates to foveated displays. Qualcomm's VR 820 is a virtual reality reference platform that uses smooth 3D with Foveated rendering. It's also used in techniques related to gaze tracking or eye tracking where the central one or two degrees of the visual angle (that area of the visual field which falls on the fovea) provide the bulk of visual information. Apple's patent interestingly covers 8K Displays. Earlier this month Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple Invents an Optical System for a Future VR and AR Headset." While smart glasses may be many years away, a video headset could likely surface ahead of time so as to work out some of the underlying technologies.
According to Apple, electronic devices often include displays. Particularly when high resolution images are being displayed for a viewer, it may be burdensome to display images at full resolution across an entire display. Foveation techniques involve displaying only critical portions of an image at full resolution and can help reduce the burdens on a display system. If care is not taken, however, display driver circuitry will be overly complex, bandwidth requirements will be excessive, and display quality will not be satisfactory.
Apple's invention covers an electronic device that may have a display with a gaze tracking system. The electronic device may display images on the display that have a higher resolution in a portion of the display that overlaps a gaze location than other portions of the display. The gaze location may be updated in real time based on information from the gaze tracking system.
As a user views different portions of the display, a graphics processing unit in the device may be used to dynamically produce high resolution image data in an area that overlaps the updated gaze location.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 presented below is a diagram of an illustrative device having a gaze tracking system and a foveated display.
Apple's patent FIG. 5 noted below is a diagram of an illustrative display such as a liquid-crystal-on-silicon display formed on a liquid-crystal-on-silicon substrate and having low and high resolution image data buffers. Liquid crystal-on-silicon displays are associated with "microdisplays' associated with head-mounted displays and pico projectors.
Apple's patent FIG. 7 is a timing diagram showing how image data may be displayed on a display of the type shown in FIG. 5; FIG. 16 16 is a diagram of an illustrative pixel array having pixels with block enable transistors.
In respect to patent FIG. 1 illustrated below Apple notes that input put-output circuitry in device #10 such as input-output devices #12 may be used to allow data to be supplied to the device and to allow data to be provided from the device to external devices.
Input-output devices #12 may include buttons, joysticks, scrolling wheels, touch pads, key pads, keyboards, microphones, speakers, tone generators, vibrators, cameras, sensors, light-emitting diodes and other status indicators, data ports, etc.
A user can control the operation of the device by supplying commands through input-output devices and may receive status information and other output from the device using the output resources of input-output devices.
The input-output devices may include one or more displays such as display #14 below. The display may be mounted in a housing for a computer, cellular telephone or other device, may be mounted within a head-mounted display chassis (e.g., the device may be configured to be worn on the head of a user), may be mounted on a wall or on a stand, may be a projector, or may be any other suitable type of display.
Apple's patent application was filed back in August 2017 and published last week in Europe. One of the key engineers credited for this invention is Giovanni Carbone who has been with Apple for over 3.5 years as a Senior Panel Optical Engineer.
Carbone's background experience was in Liquid on Crystal Silicon Micro-displays for a small form factor, high efficiency pico-projected as we noted at the top of our report as being one of devices using this kind of display along with a heads-up display. Carbone also worked as a senior research scientist at Micron Technology.
Another engineer credited to this invention is Chaohao Wang, Apple Display Technology Engineer Manager
Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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