Apple Expands their work on an underwater communications system while introducing a next-gen underwater mask with a Heads-up-Display
Patently Apple has covered a series of Apple patents relating to a future underwater and underground communication system and special wet modes allowing users to take photos or a video using your iPhone under water (01, 02). Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple titled "Underwater Communication using Electronic Devices," that expands on their March 2021 patent filing.
Apple's invention relates to underwater communication using an electronic device. Apple notes that line-of-sight ("LoS") may be difficult if not impossible to maintain during some underwater situations.
To alleviate such LoS communication limitations, electronic devices may be used to display communications in a manner that the receiving diver may review at convenient times rather than merely when a communicating diver makes hand signals.
However, underwater communication may be impractical if not impossible over any reasonable distance using traditional through-air wireless communications (e.g., 802.15-based communication, 802.11-based communication, and the like) due to a water medium greatly reducing transmission distances using such wireless communication techniques.
Instead, alternative techniques may be deployed. For instance, in addition or alternative to the through-air wireless communications, the electronic device(s) may utilize underwater communications techniques, such as sonic and/or optical communication techniques.
Furthermore, the electronic device(s) may be used to communicate using the through-air wireless communications in a first mode (e.g., above-water mode) and through-water wireless communications in a second mode (e.g., underwater mode).
Additionally, or alternatively, the electronic device(s) of a user may provide a bridge from another personal electronic device (e.g., phone) of the user to a remote device (e.g., an electronic device of another user and/or a buoy providing a bridge to another network).
For instance, the other electronic device may communicate with the electronic device using a short-distance through-air wireless communication that bridges to the remote device using the underwater communication techniques. Furthermore, similar techniques may be deployed in an underground mode or indoor mode similar to the underwater mode.
One of the big differences in this patent versus their 2021 patent is the inclusion of a new Snorkeling or Free-diving mask that will integrate technology to be used in Apple's VR Headset such as a Heads-up-Display as illustrated below in patent FIG. 5.
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More specifically, Apple's patent FIG. 5 above depicts a new wearable electronic device #10D in the form of an underwater mask. By way of example, the wearable electronic device 10D may include a strap #48 and one or more lenses #50. One or more of the lenses may include a heads-up display (HUD) #52.
The HUD may include an opaque, translucent, transparent, and/or partially transparent display used to present information to the user in addition to what the user may view through the lenses.
For example, the HUD may be used to display information about the user's position, an amount of oxygen left in a tank of the user, a rate of oxygen being used, a depth of the user, communications between other users, and/or other information that may be of value to the user during a dive.
As illustrated, the HUD may occlude only a small section of the lens 50 (e.g., left lens 50A), while leaving a larger section unobstructed. Accordingly, when compared to larger display systems, the wearer may have an improved situational awareness and field of view useful in open-water diving activities.
Below are patent figures that have been greatly updated from their 2021 patent filing with the addition of a new "Edge Device." In some embodiments, an edge device #69 may be located at the surface of the underwater environment. For instance, the edge device may include a buoy that includes a floating apparatus that causes the edge device to float at the surface of the water. The edge device may communicate with devices (iPhone, Apple Watch, HUD mask) in the underwater environment using underwater transceiver(s) (UWT) that may correspond to a transceiver type of the transceiver(s) 30 that is conducive to underwater communication.
In certain embodiments, as further depicted in FIG. 7, the electronic device #10 may launch a software application #64 (e.g., app) in the inductive communication configuration. For example, in some embodiments, the software application may include an application conducive to underwater usage, and may include, for example, a look-up table (LUT) of predetermined key messages and special keyboard features (e.g., enlarged buttons, character rolls, and so forth).
Opening this software application may cause the electronic device to begin attempting to use the transceiver(s) to perform underwater communication. In certain embodiments, the predetermined messages may include, but may not be limited to, "Help!", "Here!", "Going up!", "Going down!", "Shark!", or any of various other predetermined SMS messages that may indicate pertinent information in the most efficient manner.
Apple's patent FIG. 8 above is an illustration of an underwater deployment of the electronic device in a wireless mesh network communicating with an edge device; FIG. 11 is an illustration of a sea vessel-to-device communication using the electronic device.
For more details regarding the communication system, review Apple's patent application number 20220038190. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
Jayesh Nath: Antenna Engineer
Jody Fu: Apple Watch Product Design
Ross Jackson: Product Design Engineer
Colin Ely: Product Design Engineer