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‘Apple Glasses’ may sport a ‘dynamic focus 3D display’

Apple has been granted a patent (number 11,070,785) for a “dynamic focus 3D display.” It involves the rumored “Apple Glasses,” an augmented reality/virtual reality head-mounted display (HMD).

About the patent

In the patent data, Apple notes that virtual reality (VR) systems may display stereoscopic scenes to users in order to create an illusion of depth. A computer may adjust the scene content in real-time to provide the illusion of the user moving within the scene. 

When the user views images through a VR system, the user may feel as if they’’re moving within the scenes from a first-person point of view. Similarly, augmented reality (AR) combines computer generated information with real world images to augment, or add content to, a user’s view of the world. The simulated environments of VR and/or the enhanced content of AR may be utilized to provide an interactive user experience for multiple applications.

However, Apple notes that conventional VR and AR systems may suffer from accommodation-convergence mismatch problems that cause eyestrain, headaches, and/or nausea. Accommodation-convergence mismatch arises when a VR or AR system effectively confuses the brain of a user by generating scene content that does not match the depth expected by the brain based on the stereo convergence of the two eyes of the user. 

For example, in a stereoscopic system the images displayed to the user may trick the eye(s) into focusing at a far distance while an image is physically being displayed at a closer distance. In other words, the eyes may be attempting to focus on a different image plane or focal depth compared to the focal depth of the projected image, thereby leading to eyestrain and/or increasing mental stress. Apple says that accommodation-convergence mismatch problems are undesirable and may distract users or otherwise detract from their enjoyment and endurance levels (i.e. tolerance) of VR and AR environments. The tech giant doesn’t want its Apple Glasses to suffer from such issues.

Summary of the the patent

Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “A direct retinal projector system that provides dynamic focusing for virtual reality (VR) and/or augmented reality (AR) is described. A direct retinal projector system scans images, pixel by pixel, directly onto the subject’s retinas. This allows individual pixels to be optically affected dynamically as the images are scanned to the subject’s retinas. 

“Dynamic focusing components and techniques are described that may be used in a direct retinal projector system to dynamically and correctly focus each pixel in VR images as the images are being scanned to a subject’s eyes. This allows objects, surfaces, etc. that are intended to appear at different distances in a scene to be projected to the subject’s eyes at the correct depths.”

About Apple Glasses

When it comes to Apple Glasses, such a device will arrive this year or 2022, depending on which rumor you believe. The Sellers Research Group (that’s me) thinks Apple will at least preview it before the end of the year. 

It will be a head-mounted display. Or may have a design like “normal” glasses. Or it may be eventually be available in both. The Apple Glasses may or may not have to be tethered to an iPhone to work. Other rumors say that Apple Glasses could have a custom-build Apple chip and a dedicated operating system dubbed “rOS” for “reality operating system.”

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the news editor of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.