Two Apple Headset Patents describe a Foveated Display System & an Infrared Transparent One-Way Mirror
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published two patent applications from Apple that relate to various aspects of future AR glasses or Mixed Reality headset. One patent shows Apple's continuing work on high-quality foveated displays that using eye-gaze control to save energy. The second patent covers future glasses or headset that could use an "Infrared Transparent One-Way Mirror" that can both hide a camera and your eyes from being seen by the public.
Today some AR glasses, like "Spectacles 3" from Snapchat that are merely a stepping stone toward true augmented reality eyewear as TechCrunch puts it, have exterior cameras on the frame which are aesthetically hideous as presented below.
Apple's invention describes the possible use of an infrared transparent one-way mirror to hide those cameras from being seen by the public.
In Apple's patent background they note that items such as sunglasses and ski goggles are sometimes provided with coatings that create a one-way mirror effect. When the sunglasses or ski goggles are being worn by a user, these coatings may obscure the user's eyes from view.
Coatings for hiding internal components from view may be formed in electronic devices such as cellular telephones and computers. As an example, the underside of a cover glass layer in a cellular telephone may have coatings that hide internal components such as optical components from view while allowing these components to transmit or receive light through the coatings.
Challenges can arise when forming coatings to hide electronic device components. If care is not taken, coatings may not be sufficiently transparent to allow components to operate effectively or may not have a desired appearance.
Head Mounted Display with Infrared Transparent One-Way Mirror
Apple's invention covers glasses or a headset that may include an infrared-transparent one-way mirror. The infrared-transparent one-way mirror may be formed by a layer of material that is supported by head-mounted support structure or other support structure.
The support in the headset may support the layer of material so that the layer of material separates an exterior region from an interior region. Optical components may be overlapped by the layer of material.
The optical components may include visible light components such as a visible light camera and infrared components such as an infrared light-emitting device and an infrared light sensor.
The optical components may operate through the layer of material while being hidden from view by the reflective appearance of the infrared-transparent one way mirror.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 below is a top view of a Head Mounted Device (HMD)
Apple notes that in patent FIG. 2 above, layer #30 may include one or more sub-layers such as layer #31. These layers may include substrate layers, interior and/or exterior coatings, coatings that serve to reflect light, absorb light, and/or transmit light of different wavelengths by desired amounts, and/or other materials.
During operation, a person in the vicinity of the headset (#10) such as external viewer #62 (person), may view layer (#30) but due to the one-way mirror effect produced by layer #30, the external viewer (person #62) will not be able to view the interior of the headset through layer #30. This helps hide interior components such as light-based components #44 or cameras from view by external viewer.
Apple's patent application 20190353836 that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in Q1 2019 with some contributing work being set in Q2 2018 by a provisional patent. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
Although different, we posted another patent report in October titled "Apple Invents Augmented Reality Glasses using Photochromic Lenses."
Matt Rogers: Manager, Product Design Materials/Coatings
James Wilson: Senior Product Design Engineer, Materials
James Vandyke: Product Design Engineer.
Foveated Display System
Over the last 20 months Patently Apple has posted 4 in-depth patent reports on the topic of foveated displays for a future Apple headset as presented below.
01: Apple invents a Mixed Reality Head-Mounted Device with Active Optical Foveation
02: Apple wins a Patent for a Predictive, Foveated VR Headset
03: Apple's Mixed Reality Headset Part 3 covers their work on Predictive and Foveated Displays and Systems
04: Apple's 8K Foveated Display Technology could apply to both Mini-Displays for a VR Headset & a Wall Mounted Display+
Apple's patent abstract: "An electronic device such as a head-mounted display or other display system may have a display. A gaze detection system may gather information on a user's point of gaze on the display. Based on the point-of-gaze information, control circuitry in the electronic device may produce image data for an image with multiple resolutions. A full-resolution area of the image overlaps the point of gaze. Lower resolution image areas are located in peripheral regions of the image."
Apple patent application 20190355332 is another piece of the foveated display puzzle that works with an advanced eye-tracking system and it's highly technical. If you wish to explore it further, check it out here.
Ivan Knez: Tech Lead & Manager, Hardware Engineering. Knez is now with ARM as Director, Business Planning and Operations
Chun-Yao Huang: No profile available