Apple invents an optical alignment system for future Eyewear & reveals a bio-sensor system to track health & activity metrics and more
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a new patent application from Apple that relates to head-mountable devices, and, more particularly, to the importance of an alignment mechanism for an optical assembly of head-mountable devices, such as eyeglasses and MR Headset. The patent further dives deeper into revealing advanced sensors for their eyewear to include facial recognition and a deep facial detection system for mood, emotions, eye tracking and more.
Apple notes that head-mountable devices, such as smart eyeglasses, head-mountable displays, headsets, visors, head-up display, and the like 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. It can be desirable to provide the components of the head-mountable device in an alignment that provides the desired optical properties, including properly aligned output of visual features from a display element.
Proper operation of display components of a head-mountable device can be based on proper alignment. For example, where a light projection display element is configured to project light onto a waveguide, the relative alignment of the display element and the waveguide are preferably achieved for optimal performance.
Misalignment of the components can cause visual features output by the display element to be projected on the waveguide at locations other than the desired locations. While such misalignment can be accommodated by shifting the output of the display element (e.g., by shifting visual features based on a known offset), such measures may require that certain output regions of the display element be sacrificed. Accordingly, the entire display capabilities of the display element may not be utilized.
With Apple's invention, head-mountable devices can provide adjustment mechanisms to achieve optimal alignment of optical components during and/or after assembly within the head-mountable device. The alignment mechanisms can be integrated into the head-mountable device itself. A light projecting display element can be adjustable based on sensed relative position and/or orientation of the display element and the waveguide. The adjustment mechanisms can adjust the display element during initial assembly and/or be operated by actuators that actively adjust the alignment as needed over time. The actuators can operate with closed-loop feedback to ensure accurate and rapid alignment.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below illustrates an overview of a top view of a head-mountable device, such as eyeglasses or MR HMD.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 above illustrates a block diagram of a head-mountable device. Here Apple dives into the many sensors that could be included in their future eyewear.
The sensor system can include one or more environment sensors that are directed to an external environment. Such environment sensors can include any sensor that detects one or more conditions in an environment of the head-mountable device. For example, an environment sensor can include an imaging device, a thermal sensor, a proximity sensor, a motion sensor, a humidity sensor, a chemical sensor, a light sensor, a magnetometer, a gyroscope, an accelerometer, a global positioning sensor, a tilt sensor, and/or a UV sensor. An environment sensor can be configured to sense substantially any type of characteristic such as, but not limited to, images, pressure, light, touch, force, temperature, position, motion, and so on.
Additionally, or alternatively, the sensor can be or include one or more user sensors for tracking features of the user wearing the head-mountable device 10. For example, a user sensor can perform facial feature detection, facial movement detection, facial recognition, eye tracking, user mood detection, user emotion detection, voice detection, etc.
Eye tracking may also be used to determine a location of information to be displayed by the display element #80 (of FIG. 1) and/or a portion (e.g., object) of a view to be analyzed by the head-mountable device.
By further example, the user sensor can be a bio-sensor for tracking biometric characteristics, such as health and activity metrics.
Apple's patent FIG. 6 below illustrates a schematic view of an optical assembly.
More specifically, FIG. 6 depicts a side view of an example embodiment of a display module #90 having an actuator system that may, for example, be used to move a display element #80 and provide magnetic sensing for adjustments in small form factor head-mountable devices, according to at least some embodiments. While various mechanisms are depicted for sensing and adjusting relative positions and/or orientations.
As shown in FIG. 6, the housing #60 may include and/or support one or more display element sensors (e.g., Hall effect sensors, tunneling magnetoresistance sensors, giant magnetoresistance sensors, etc.) and one or more actuators, which may at least partly enable magnetic sensing for position detection, e.g., by detecting movements of magnets of display element target elements.
To go deeper into the invention's details about optical alignment of a head mountable device, review Apple's patent application number 20210149203 that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office.
Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.