Three new HMD Patents from Apple cover Object Detection along with Adjustable Lenses and Face Fitting Systems
Earlier today Patently Apple posted a patent application report titled "Apple Invents a Wireless Charging System for their future Head Mounted Display Device Plus Wireless Charging Stands." At the end of that report I noted that there was two more HMD patents published today raising the total of HMD patents since January 2020 to 14. In fact, there was three additional HMD related patents published today by the US Patent & Trademark Office raising to the total to 15 thus far in 2020.
Apple's three patent filings briefly covered in this report cover 'object detection' along with 'adjustable lenses' and 'face fitting' systems. On the basis of patent filings alone, the pace of Apple's innovation for HMDs makes it their leading project thus far in 2020.
#1 Object Detection via Ultrasonic Sensors
Apple's invention covers systems, methods, and computer readable media for utilizing ultrasonic sensors on a head mounted device. By incorporating ultrasonic sensors into a head mounted device, a system may more accurately detect obstacles and alert users to obstructions in a physical environment. In one or more embodiments, the addition of ultrasonic sensors to a head mounted device provides detection capabilities for objects that are not typically detectable, or which are difficult to detect, by traditional vision and depth cameras provided on a headset.
For example, walls, doors, windows, and large mirrors may be difficult to detect, but one or more ultrasonic sensors affixed to a head mounted device may be utilized to detect those objects and alert the user such that the user may avoid walking into them. In one or more embodiments, the user may utilize a head mounted device in a manner such that the user may not see the objects, such as in a virtual reality mode, and/or if the user is walking or otherwise moving backwards, in the direction of the back of the head.
Another way that ultrasonic sensors may be used on a head mounted device are to enhance a user experience. For example, glass tabletops and other surfaces may make accurate placement of virtual objects in an environment challenging. By utilizing ultrasonic sensors, real world items in the environment may be better identified and located such that virtual objects may be more accurately placed in the environment.
The patent figures above: FIG. 1 provides an overview of the HMD that incorporates an "Object Detection Module" and includes "Ultrasonic Sensors; Apple's patent FIG. 2A illustrates an HMD being worn by a user that includes ultrasonic sensors integrated into face, left and right sides of HMD. Ultrasonic sensors are both transmitting and receiving sensors; and lastly FIG. 3 depicts an example system setup in which an object may be detected. To get into the nitty-gritty details of this invention click here.
#2 HMD with Adjustable Support Structures
A huge part of Apple's invention relates to a future Head Mounted Device (HMD) being able to accommodate users with different face shapes and sizes to deliver the best comfort level as possible when sitting on a user's head.
The HMD may include adjustable support structures coupled to the housing structure. The adjustable support structures may include a first portion that rests against a user's forehead and second and third portions that rest against the user's cheeks or temples.
In some arrangements, the adjustable support structures may be configured to expand and retract to accommodate different face shapes and sizes. The adjustable support structures that expand and retract may include posts with adjustable lengths, telescoping layers of material, inflatable structures, and/or elastomeric materials.
The second part of Apple's patent application 20200081259 relates to allowing a user to manually adjust both left and right lens modules. Apple's third patent application 20200081253 is titled "Electronic Device with A Display Attached to a Lens Element" that dives deeper into this HMD capability/feature. You could drill into the details here.
Patently Apple also covered another Apple invention on this subject two weeks ago in a report titled "Apple Invents a Lens Position Sensing System for a Headset that can adjust lens accuracy for different Face Profiles."