Apple Wins Patent for an AR/VR Headset that uses a Dynamic Focus 3D Display that projects images Directly unto the Retina
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of X newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover Apple's patent relating to a mixed reality headset with a Dynamic Focus 3D Display. While Conventional VR systems project left and right images onto screens that are viewed by a subject, Apple new way uses a direct retinal projector system that scans the images, pixel by pixel, directly onto the subject's retinas.
According to Apple, conventional virtual reality and augmented reality systems may suffer from accommodation-convergence mismatch problems that cause eyestrain, headaches, and/or nausea. Accommodation-convergence mismatch arises when a VR or AR system effectively confuses the brain of a user by generating scene content that does not match the depth expected by the brain based on the stereo convergence of the two eyes of the user.
For example, in a stereoscopic system the images displayed to the user may trick the eye(s) into focusing at a far distance while an image is physically being displayed at a closer distance. In other words, the eyes may be attempting to focus on a different image plane or focal depth compared to the focal depth of the projected image, thereby leading to eyestrain and/or increasing mental stress.
Accommodation-convergence mismatch problems are undesirable and may distract users or otherwise detract from their enjoyment and endurance levels (i.e. tolerance) of virtual reality or augmented reality environments. Apple's invention is to overcome this issue.
Apple's granted patent that was never published as a patent application under "Apple" covers methods and apparatus for providing dynamic focusing 3D display for virtual reality (VR) and/or augmented reality (AR) systems.
Embodiments of dynamic focusing components and techniques for direct retinal projector systems are described that may, for example, resolve the convergence-accommodation conflict in AR and VR systems.
Embodiments of the dynamic focusing components and techniques may be used in a direct retinal projector system to correctly focus each pixel in VR images as the images are being scanned to a subject's eyes.
A VR or AR headset system is described that may include or implement the dynamic focusing components and techniques in a direct retinal projector system.
The human brain typically uses two cues to gauge distance: accommodation (i.e., eye focus) and eye convergence (i.e., the stereoscopic perspective difference between the two eyes). Conventional near-eye VR systems, such as DLP (digital light processing), LCD (liquid crystal display) and LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) technology VR systems, typically use separate screens for each respective eye to project the images intended for the left eye and the right eye, as well as optics to allow a user to focus the eyes at a far distance during viewing of the left and right eye images.
To create a three-dimensional (3D) effect, objects at different depths or distances in the two images are shifted left or right as a function of the triangulation of distance, with nearer objects shifted more than more distant objects.
While Conventional VR systems project left and right images onto screens that are viewed by a subject, Apple new way uses a direct retinal projector system that scans the images, pixel by pixel, directly onto the subject's retinas.
This aspect of direct retinal projector systems allows individual pixels to be optically affected dynamically as the images are scanned to the subject's retinas. The dynamic focusing components and techniques used in Apple's granted patent may be used in a direct retinal projector system to dynamically and correctly focus each pixel in the VR images as the images are being scanned to a subject's eyes.
This allows content (objects, surfaces, etc.) that is intended to appear at different depths in a scene to be projected to the subject's eyes at the correct depths.
Apple's patent FIG. 14 is a logical block diagram of a frame for a VR/AR device; FIG. 15 is a logical block diagram of a device that provides augmented reality (AR) to a subject.
Apple's granted patent 10,681,328 was originally filed in Q4 2019 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Apple's inventor is Alexander Shpunt, Architect, the came to Apple after the acquisition of Israel's PrimeSense that was behind Apple's TrueDepth camera. Being the inventor of this invention gives it more credibility and likelihood of it coming to market.