Apple Patent illustrates Future Smartglasses Offering a Modular Design allowing users to exchange parts for Different Functionality
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a potential modular design for their future smartglasses so that users can exchange components for different functionality, to exchange lenses including prescription lenses and more. A user could use a high-resolution display when at home and exchange it for a higher battery component when being mobile.
A head-mounted device can be worn by a user to display visual information within the field of view of the user. The head-mounted device can be used as a virtual reality (VR) system, an augmented reality (AR) system, and/or a mixed reality (MR) system.
A user may observe outputs provided by the head-mounted device, such as visual information provided on a display. The display can optionally allow a user to observe an environment outside of the head-mounted device.
Other outputs provided by the head-mounted device can include audio output and/or haptic feedback. A user may further interact with the head-mounted device by providing inputs for processing by one or more components of the head-mounted device. For example, the user can provide tactile inputs, voice commands, and other inputs while the device is mounted to the user's head.
Head-mounted devices, such as head-mounted displays, headsets, visors, smartglasses, head-up display, etc., can perform a range of functions that is determined by the components (e.g., sensors, circuitry, and other hardware) included with the wearable device as manufactured. However, space, cost, and other considerations may limit the ability to provide every component that might provide a desired function.
For example, different users may have different preferences regarding the components and functions that are provided by a given head-mounted device. Some users may desire certain capabilities, such as high-resolution display and long battery life, while other users may desire other capabilities, such as smaller form factor.
Furthermore, a given user may desire different functions at different times. For example, a given user may desire high resolution display at home and long battery life when outside the home.
Given the diversity of desired components and functions, it would be beneficial to allow a user to modify components and functions of a head-mounted device to customize the user experience according to the user's desires. Head-mounted devices of the present disclosure facilitate customization, adaptability, and modification by a user according to the user's desires.
Systems of the present invention can provide a head-mounted device with exchangeable modules that provide a variety of different components and functions to achieve the results that are desired by a user.
The modular configurations allow a user to easily customize a head-mounted device with one or more arm modules to provide features that integrate with other operations of the frame module of the head-mounted device. The arm modules can be easily exchanged with each other to provide different components and functions at different times.
Accordingly, a frame module of the present disclosure need not include permanent components that provide every function that will later be desired by the user. Instead, the head-mounted device can have expanded and customizable capabilities by the use of one or more arm modules.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below illustrates a perspective view of a mixed reality (MR) head-mounted device in an assembled configuration and FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective view of a head-mounted device in an unassembled configuration.
More specifically, Apple's patent FIG. 1 above is a head-mounted device #10 which includes a frame module #100 that is worn on a head with one or more arm modules #200. The frame module can be positioned in front of the eyes of a user to provide information within a field of view of the user.
The Glasses frame #102 can enclose and support various internal components (including for example integrated circuit chips, processors, memory devices and other circuitry) to provide computing and functional operations for the Glasses.
Apple notes that display element #104 can transmit light from a physical environment for viewing by the user. Such a display element can include optical properties, such lenses for vision correction based on incoming light from the physical environment.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 present Glasses with exchangeable modules that provide a variety of different components and functions to achieve the results that are desired by a user. For example, Glasses device #10 can be provided with arm modules #200 that can be detached from the frame module #100.
of another arm module with the same frame module or another frame module with the same arm module. The connection and/or disconnection can be achieved repeatedly and reversibly by hand, rather than requiring a tool.
Additionally or alternatively, at least one of the size, shape, profile, dimension, aspect ratio, surface feature, texture, color, and/or markings can be different among multiple arm modules. For example, different arm modules can have different sizes and/or shapes to accommodate different head and/or face structures. This can allow a user to choose from among multiple arm modules that provide different ergonomic features so the user can select one according to comfort provided. By further example, different arm modules can have different aesthetic features to provide the user with different options for fashion and appearance.
By further example, different frame modules can provide different functional features, such as different lenses for vision correction, so that a user can select a frame module that is appropriate for a given activity (e.g., driving, reading, etc.). By further example, different frame modules can have different aesthetic features to provide the user with different options for fashion and appearance.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 below illustrates a perspective view of a frame module and an arm module each having a mechanical attachment mechanism and a communication link; FIGS. 3 and 4, the frame module can be provided with a frame communication interface #120 and the arm module 200 can be provide with an arm communication interface #220.
Apple's patent FIGS. 8-10 below illustrates a variety of arm modules that can be used at different times with a given frame module of a head-mounted device. The different components can provide different function functional components such as sensors, bio-sensors, batteries, I/O components, communication interfaces, controllers, and the like.
Apple's patent FIG. 11 above illustrates an additional module #500 that can be attached and operably connected to an arm module #200 independently of the attachment of the arm module to a frame module.
Apple's patent FIGS. 13 and 14 below illustrate a frame module that can be provided with exchangeable display elements. For example, as shown in FIG. 13, a display element #104 in one configuration can be exchanged with an additional display element #704 having at least one different feature (e.g., resolution, color, thickness, etc.).
For example, one of the display elements can be opaque and the other can be transparent or translucent. Additionally or alternatively, one display element can provide display capabilities over one eye and the other display element can provide display capabilities over only one eye or over neither eye. Additionally or alternatively, one display element can provide optical correction (prescription) and the other display element can provide different or no optical correction.
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.