Apple Invents an HMD to work with a camera accessory that will make the public aware that the user is recording video & more
Back in 2013 Patently Apple posted a report describing a Seattle bar that had pre-emptively banned Google Glass from its premises. It raised questions about whether Google Glass was presenting a privacy concern when used in public spaces. The 5 Point Café made its intentions clear with a post on its Facebook page that stated: "For the record, The 5 Point is the first Seattle business to ban in advance Google Glasses. This was a huge issue with Google Glass once it sunk in that it could possibly be used to spy on people.
A new patent application from Apple that was published by the U.S. Patent Office yesterday made it clear that Apple understood this privacy issue and was going to address it when designing their future HMD.
Deep into Apple's patent filing they noted that an HMD may also include one or more cameras that may be used to capture still images or video frames of the user's environment. Video frames captured by the camera(s) may, for example, be processed by a controller of the HMD and used to provide an augmented view of the real environment to the user via the display system. In at least some systems, the HMD may include recording functionality that allows the user to record images or video of the real environment captured by the HMD camera(s).
When a user is taking a photo or video with a smartphone, bystanders know when a camera is aimed at them and they could cover their face or tell the smartphone owner to stop the filming. Yet with HMDs, "there is no clear physical motion that would indicate whether or not the user may be currently recording video." So, there's "a need for recording indicators for HMDs that cannot be easily defeated so that persons can be aware that they are being recorded."
In Apple's patent FIG. 13 below, we see an illustration of a modular camera accessory for an HMD that may include a frame, a display (#1310), a controller (#1360), and memory (#1370).
To record video with the HMD (#1300) and accessory (#1350), the user has to attach the accessory to the HMD frame. The presence of the modular accessory on the HMD would serve to indicate to persons in the environment that they may be being recorded.
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This would also have the added effect of making the HMD frame (without the accessory) lighter, which would benefit users who do not need to record, or who have no interest in recording functionality.
Apple further notes that "The modular accessory would also make it possible for venues such as bars and theaters to ban the modular accessory while still allowing the HMD frame (without the accessory) into the venues."
Technically speaking, Apple notes that the modular accessory may attach to the HMD frame via a magnetic or mechanical connection.
In various embodiments, the user may control the accessory via one or more of physical buttons on the HMD and/or on the accessory, voice commands, or gestures.
The second part of Apple's invention describes the use of camera indicator having a ring of light elements (e.g., LEDs #959 shown below) around the camera lens (#954) that generate light pulses in an encrypted pattern. The emitted light pattern may be reflected off one or more objects or surfaces in the user's environment and be captured by the camera. If the encrypted pattern cannot be detected (e.g., because the user has blocked or disabled the LEDs), the camera's controller (#960) may disable recording.
Apple's patent also dives deep into possible features for their HMD such as internal eye tracking cameras, a retinal projector system, depth sensors, IR cameras and much more that you could explore in patent application 20210191133 here.
Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.