Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to an electronic device that includes lenticular display. The lenticular display may have a lenticular lens film formed over an array of pixels. A plurality of lenticular lenses may extend across the length of the display. The lenticular lenses may be configured to enable stereoscopic viewing (3D viewing) of the display such that a viewer perceives three-dimensional images.
The electronic device may also include an eye and/or head tracking system. The eye and/or head tracking system uses a camera to capture images of a viewer of the display. The capture images may be used to determine a viewer's eye position.
What caught my interest is that while the invention could apply to Apple's future mixed reality headset, the lenticular display could also apply to a future iPhone, iPad, Apple Monitor or even a TV.
For the record, it just happens that Sony developed a first-generation lenticular display that appears to be prototyped in a notebook sized display. Check out Sony's story of this potentially revolutionary display.
Although they're using a lenticular 3D screen, they're marketing it as a "Spatial Reality Display." With Apple pushing "Spatial Audio" hard, could a "Spatial Reality Display" be far behind?
Sony's Hologram Lenticular 3D Display
Users can discover a new visual medium with Sony’s Spatial Reality Display. Their legacies of cutting-edge visual and spatial realities combine in an incredible 3D optical experience where detailed texture, high contrast, and luminous brightness come together to create a portal to another world. How exciting is that?
Considering that Apple is describing something completely new, I found Apple's patent verbiage describing something without supporting it fully with matching patent figures so that we can visualize this new kind of device.
With that said, Apple's patent notes that the new display could be supported by touch sensors supporting acoustic touch, resistive touch and/or force-based touch structures. One device describes using back-to-back displays. At one point Apple describes one device using a trackpad, perhaps relating to a dual display MacBook.
At patent point #0041, Apple states: "Display #14 [of FIG. 1] may sometimes be a stereoscopic display that is configured to display three-dimensional content for a viewer. Stereoscopic displays are capable of displaying multiple two-dimensional images that are viewed from slightly different angles. When viewed together, the combination of the two-dimensional images creates the illusion of a three-dimensional image for the viewer."
Apple adds that "There are numerous ways to implement a stereoscopic display. Display 14 may be a lenticular display that uses lenticular lenses (e.g., elongated lenses that extend along parallel axes), may be a parallax barrier display that uses parallax barriers (e.g., an opaque layer with precisely spaced slits to create a sense of depth through parallax), may be a volumetric display, or may be any other desired type of stereoscopic display."
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a schematic diagram of an illustrative electronic device having a display; FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative lenticular display that provides images to two or more viewers.
Apple's patent FIG. 6 is a diagram of an illustrative display that includes an eye and/or head tracking system that determines viewer eye position and control circuitry that updates the display based on the viewer eye position; FIGS. 7A-7C are perspective views of illustrative three-dimensional content that may be displayed on different zones of the display of FIG. 6.
Apple's patent FIG. 12 is a side view of an illustrative display showing how a secondary viewing cone may be utilized based on viewer eye position information.
To dig into the details of this invention, check out Apple's patent application number 20210297653.
Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.