Apple is Granted a Patent for a Next-Gen Optical Radiation Projector for iDevices that's used for 3D Mapping & Face ID
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 43 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover Apple's patent behind a future version of their TrueDepth camera used for 3D mapping of scenes including the Face. The patent covers an improved dot or pattern projection system.
Apple notes that their granted patent describes improved sources of optical radiation for smartphones
The invention provides a compact optoelectronic apparatus featuring a spatially multiplexed light source that includes an enclosure with an array of emitters of beams of optical radiation, projection optics, a polarization-based spatial multiplexer, and a controller contained in the enclosure. (The terms "optical radiation" and "light" as used in the present description and in the claims refer generally to any and all of visible, infrared, and ultraviolet radiation.)
The projection optics are common to all of the emitted beams, and in some embodiments include an array of first cylindrical lenses with mutually parallel first cylinder axes and a second cylindrical lens, adjacent to the array of first cylindrical lenses, with a second cylinder axis perpendicular to the first axes. Depending on the optical parameters, this arrangement can be used to create uniform flood lighting or patterned radiation over the field of interest.
The beams of optical radiation emitted by the array of emitters are received by the projection optics and projected toward the polarization-based spatial multiplexer. The polarization-based spatial multiplexer directs the beams, depending on their state of polarization, to be emitted through the front face or the rear face of the enclosure, or through both of the faces.
The beams emitted through the front or rear faces may have different functionalities. For instance, the beams emitted through the front face may project patterned illumination onto a scene, enabling 3D mapping based on triangulation, whereas a scanner may be added to scan the beams emitted through the rear face, enabling 3D mapping based on time-of-flight (TOF). Alternatively or additionally, the beams may be used for other purposes, such as uniform flood lighting.
Apple's patent FIG. 2A is a view of a schematic solid model of an optoelectronic apparatus #80; FIG. 4 is a schematic perspective illustration of an alternative optoelectronic apparatus #120.
Apple's granted patent 10,686,548 was originally filed in Q3 2019 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office. Apple's sole inventor is listed as Neil MacKinnon, a Sr. Optical Engineer that's been with Apple since 2012.