Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to a future mixed reality headset that will allow those with prescription glasses to put their unique lenses into a headset to eliminate the need to wear exterior glasses in the headset making it bulkier and less comfortable.
Apple notes in their patent background that head-mounted devices are provided with head-mounted structures that allow the devices to be worn on users' heads. The head-mounted devices may include optical systems with lenses. The lenses allow displays in the devices to present visual content to users.
Some users of head-mounted devices have visual defects such as myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, or presbyopia. It can be challenging to ensure that an optical system in a head-mounted device operates satisfactorily for these users.
If care is not taken, it may be difficult or impossible for a user with visual defects to focus properly on content that is being displayed.
Electronic Device System with Supplemental Lenses
Apple's invention covers a head-mounted display device that supports structures that may be configured to receive a removable supplemental lens system in alignment with the non-removable lens system.
Magnetic coupling structures or other engagement structures may be used to removably couple the supplemental lens system to the head-mounted device.
The removable supplemental lens system may be used to adjust the lens characteristics of the non-removable lens system and thereby customize the head-mounted display to accommodate the user's vision.
For example, the removable supplemental lens system may include supplemental left and right lenses that align with and supplemental corresponding left and right lenses in the non-removable lens system and that include astigmatic lens characteristics and other characteristics that allow the head-mounted device to be used by a user with astigmatism or other visual defects.
Removable supplemental lens systems associated with different users may be configured to operate with a shared head-mounted device. To ensure that the head-mounted device can customize its operation for each user, the removable supplemental lens system of each user may be provided with information that identifies the user associated with that removable supplemental lens system and other stored information.
This information is stored in the removable supplemental lens system using bar codes or other optically readable patterns, programmable memory, or other data storage. A memory reader, gaze tracking system, or other sensor may be used in retrieving the stored information.
The information that is stored in the removable supplemental lens system may include information on the optical characteristics of the removable supplemental lens system, user information such as the user's eyeglass prescription, and/or other information.
When the removable supplemental lens system is installed in the head-mounted device, control circuitry in the head-mounted device may retrieve the stored information and may take appropriate action.
For example, the control circuitry may use lens positioners to adjust lens spacing and other operating parameters of the lens systems based on the user's interpupillary distance and other information on the user.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 presented below illustrates a top view of an illustrative head-mounted display device; FIG. 3 is a diagram of an illustrative removable supplemental lens; FIG. 4 is a flow chart of illustrative operations associated with using a head-mounted display device.
As shown in FIG. 2 above, for example, each lens module #70 may include a non-removable lens #72. Lenses #72 may be Fresnel lenses, single-element or multiple-element lenses formed from clear materials such as glass or plastic, mirror lenses, catadioptric lenses, and/or lenses of other types.
Apple has been working on such a solution for some time now. Patently Apple has covered two additional patent applications covering a solution for prescription lens in a future headset as follows:
01: Apple Files a Europe Patent for an HMD with Emphasis on Smartglasses that applies a user's Eye-Glasses Prescription
02: Apple Advances one of their Video Headset inventions that finally addresses the Prescription Lenses issue
Apple's patent application that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in Q2 2019. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.