Apple wins a Patent for a Specialized Motion Device that sits on a VR Headset to Ensure a Tight Fit on the user's Face
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to yet another system for a future VR Headset that could increase the ability to deliver a comfortable fit for users. If the headset slips due to a user's head motion, a motion sensor detects the misalignment and corrects the position of the headset on the user's face.
Apple's obsession with delivering a comfortable fit for their headset was one of the reasons given today by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo as to why Apple was delaying their new device launch until at least Q4 2022.
In Apple's patent background they note that virtual reality systems, augmented reality systems, and mixed reality systems (VR, AR, MR) often include a head mounted device that displays content to a user. The head mounted device may include a housing that is worn on the user's head and is supported by a flexible support or a rigid support. Head mounted devices of this type typically require some manner of adjustment to fit the user's head. Incorrect size adjustments can result in user discomfort and instability of the device relative to the user's head. Manual adjustment may also be time consuming and inconvenient.
Apple's invention and granted patent relates to a head mounted device that includes a housing that defines an interior space and an elongate member that is connected to the housing and is configured to expand and contract to conform to the head of a user.
The elongate member includes at least one end portion that is connected to the housing at an attachment point. The attachment point is located in the interior space of the housing such that the end portion of the elongate member extends along a path within the housing that has a length that is greater than half of a lateral width of the housing.
Another aspect of the invention is a head mounted device that includes a housing that defines an interior space and an elongate member control mechanism that is coupled to the interior space of the housing.
The head mounted device may include an elongate member that is coupled to the elongate member control mechanism and is configured to extend circumferentially around the head of a user, where the elongate member control mechanism is operable to extend and retract the elongate member.
The head mounted device may include an elongate member retaining mechanism that is located in the housing and is operable to engage the elongate member to restrain extension and retraction of the elongate member.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a side view of a head mounted device #100 worn by a user. The head mounted device 100 may be worn on the head (#102) of the user and may allow the user to view images or other content using a display. The content may be part of an immersive experience in which the content appears to replace, supplement, or change the environment around the user. In the examples that are shown below, the head mounted device is configured to display virtual reality content to the user.
For example, the head mounted device may be configured to display the virtual reality content to the user in correspondence with tracked motion of the head of the user, and such that the virtual reality content is displayed to the user to the exclusion of the environment around the user.
In the illustrated example, the head mounted device includes a housing (#104) and an elongate member (#106 -e.g., a headband). The housing provides a structure to which other components of the head mounted device may connect. The housing may be shaped so as to be worn on the user's head and/or face and may be selectively positioned to be near the user's eyes.
The housing is removably, permanently, or semi permanently connected to at least a portion of the elongate member, which may be referred to as a strap or headband.
The elongate member supports, positions, and/or secures the housing to the user's head. The elongate member may be adjusted between an extended position in which the elongate member may be extended around the head of the user and a retracted position. As an example, the elongate member may be in the extended position when the head mounted device is being used, and the elongate member may be in the retracted position when the head mounted device isn't used.
Apple's patent FIG. 29 above is a side view of a head mounted device (#2900) in a first position. FIG. 30 is a side view of the head mounted device in a second position.
While being worn by the user, the head mounted device may slip from a first position (shown in FIG. 29), which may be referred to as an original position, to a second position (shown in FIG. 30). A change in position of the head mounted device may result in poor image quality and user discomfort.
Apple goes on to describe how the elongated member 2906 ensures that the headset can't slip on the user's head and should it, the motion sensors know how to counter any shift of the headset to ensure proper alignment. The corrective measure is captured in the flow chart below in patent FIG. 31.
For those wanting to dive into the finer details and view many other patent figures, review Apple's granted patent 11,150,695.