Two new Head Mounted Device Patents reveal more about Optical Systems used in Augmented Reality Applications
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published two patent applications from Apple that relate to their mixed reality headset. Each patent relates to optical systems with one specifically relating to display adjustment and correction in context with mixed realities that include augmented reality and augmented virtuality.
Optical Adjustment for a Head Mounted Device
Apple's first patent application covers a head-mountable device that could include an optical module that provides a display element and/or an optical element that are adjustably mounted.
The display element and/or another optical element can be adjusted by actuation of a mechanism that allows the display element and/or the optical element to move in one or more (e.g., six) degrees of freedom (roll, pitch, and yaw).
The actuation allows for the position of the display element to be adjusted relative to the optical element to correct for any displacements caused during operation of the head-mountable device.
One or more sensors/cameras within the optical module or external to the optical module and/or the head-mountable device can detect the position of the display at an initial state as well as thereafter. The sensors can check for changes in the position of the components to provide a basis for the actuation.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 represents a general HMD device; FIG. 3 illustrates a sectional view of an optical module of the head-mountable device; FIG. 4 illustrates another sectional view of the optical module of the head-mountable device.
Apple further notes that in patent FIG. 3, an optical module can provide visual output for viewing by a user. While a single optical module (#140) as shown in FIG. 3, it will be understood that separate optical modules can be provided for each of the user's two eyes. Each of the optical modules can be adjusted to align with the corresponding eye of the user.
While the optical element (#162) is shown as a lens in FIG. 3, it will be understood that the optical element can include or be provided with one or more diffusers, filters, polarizers, prisms, beam splitters, diffraction gratings, mirrors, and/or windows.
The housing (#144) and the optical element (#162) can together define an outer periphery of the optical module and sealingly enclose the interior. For example, an interior space of the optical module can be isolated (e.g., hermetically sealed) from an external environment.
Projection-based systems may employ retinal projection technology that projects graphical images onto a person's retina.
Projection systems also may be configured to project virtual objects into the physical environment, for example, as a hologram or on a physical surface.
Apple's patent FIG. 5 below illustrates a sectional view of an optical module of the head-mountable device with an external device for alignment detection; FIG. 6 illustrates a block diagram of a head-mountable device.
Apple notes that while the Head-mountable device could be a full HMD, eventually the invention could apply to visors, smartglasses, a head-up display and more.
For finer details, review Apple's patent application number 20210063734.
Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
Transparent Display System with Peripheral Illumination
In Apple's second HMD patent application relates to an Augmented Reality lighting system. Apple notes that a head-mounted device contains optical components such as a display for displaying visual content. The head-mounted support structures may support the display. The display may be part of an optical system that combines real-world image light with light from an image source. In this way, computer-generated images (sometimes referred to as virtual images) may be overlaid on top of real-world images.
For finer details, review Apple's patent application number 20210063745.
For the record: The US Patent Office didn't publish today's patent application until sometime after 6 or 6:30 a.m. PST instead of their traditional time frames. This of course delayed our reporting this morning.