In October 2019 Patently Apple posted a patent application report titled "Apple Patent Reveals Finger Sensory Devices that will Work with a Future Headset and Designed to be Stored Together." While VR headset designs on the market today may use VR gloves or handheld accessory devices to assist users playing games and interacting in VR environments, one of Apple's creative leading engineers, Paul X. Wang, patented finger future devices that could be placed on one or more fingers so as to accomplish the same thing.
On Thursday a rumor from Bloomberg claimed that Apple's first crack at a future headset will be in the form of a VR Head-Mounted-Device like Facebook's Oculus and not AR Glasses. This makes it more important than ever to stay updated on all current and future Apple patents on this subject matter so as to glean what features and accessories could be part of their first and subsequent VR Headsets.
Electronic Finger Devices
Apple’s invention in general covers a system that may include one or more finger-mounted devices such as finger devices with U-shaped housings configured to be mounted on a user's fingers while gathering sensor input and supplying haptic output.
The sensors may include force sensors, inertial measurement units, proximity sensors, touch sensors, and other sensors. Haptic output devices in the finger-mounted devices may provide vibrations and other haptic output to the fingers of a user as the user interacts with real-world objects and computer-generated virtual objects in virtual reality and mixed reality environments.
Apple’s patent FIG. 1 below is a schematic diagram of an illustrative system with a finger device in accordance to their invention; FIG. 2 is a top view of an illustrative finger of a user on which a finger device has been placed; FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative finger device on the finger of a user.
Apple’s patent FIG. 8 below is a perspective view of an illustrative battery case with a hinged lid for storing and charging a finger device; FIG. 9 is a top view of an illustrative storage case for a set of three finger devices; FIG. 10 is a perspective view of an illustrative head-mounted device to which finger devices have been coupled for storage and charging; FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a portion of a device such as a head-mounted device that has a recess for receiving a finger device.
On Thursday, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a continuation patent related to this invention. Most major Apple inventions evolve over time until and they do so through continuation patents.
Today's patent report isn't about a new invention application but rather a continuation patent wherein Apple is updating and/or adding specific technologies, features and/or methods that they want to legally extend, protect and fold into their granted patent which is legally permitted. Any change and/or addition to their invention is restricted to Apple's patent claims that are legally binding.
Apple's October 2020 granted patent covered patent claims that basically covered 4 specific areas of their invention as follows:
- A Finger-mounted device (7 claims in total)
- A head-mounted device (9 claims in total)
- The battery case (6 claims in total)
- A System (5 claims in total)
Apple's continuation patent that was published on January 21, 2020, added 20 patent claims covering 3 areas of Apple's invention with new information as follows:
- An electronic device (10 claims in total)
- A case (5 claims in total)
- A head-mounted display (5 claims in total)
Below are a few examples of Apple's new or additional patent claims for this invention in the 3 key additional areas as noted above.
Patent Claim #1 adds information: An electronic device configured to charge a finger device, wherein the finger device comprises a finger device housing and a battery within the finger device housing, the electronic device comprising: an electronic device housing; a power source configured to supply power to the battery; and a magnet configured to align the finger device housing with respect to the electronic device housing.
Patent Claim #11: A case for a finger device, wherein the finger device comprises a finger device housing and a battery within the finger device housing, the case comprising: first and second housing portions configured to rotate relative to one another about a hinge; a power source configured to supply power to the battery; and a magnet configured to hold the finger device within the case.
Patent Claims #3 and #13: … wherein the finger device housing comprises a U-shaped finger device housing and the recess comprises a U-shaped groove configured to receive the U-shaped finger device housing.
To review all 20 added patent claims, check out Apple's continuation patent 20210018981. Considering that this is a continuation patent, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.