Apple GlassesApple Vision Pro

Apple granted patent for an ‘optical module’ for ‘smart eyeglasses’

Apple is purportedly investigating the possibility of "Apple Glasses" and an "Apple Ring."

Apple has been granted a patent for a “optical module.” Vision Pro. It involves what sounds like a smart eyeglasses follow-up to the Vision Pro (“Apple Glasses,” perhaps?).

The US$3,499 (and up) “Spatial Computer” is due to arrive in early 2024. However, it apparently will only be available in limited quantities at first.

About ‘Apple Glasses’

At one point, Apple Glasses (my moniker, not Apple’s) was the anticipated follow-up to the RealityPro. It is/was an anticipated follow-up product that would have a lower price tag and have a design akin to regular glasses.

However, in a September 26 Medium post, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple may have canceled plans for a low-cost Vision Pro. 

“Unless Apple significantly reduces the price of Vision Pro, the anticipated significant shipment growth in Vision Pro shipments starting in 2025 may not materialize,” Kuo writes. “The Vision Pro 2 could enter mass production by the first half of 2027 at the latest, suggesting there may be no hardware updates for the Vision Pro in the coming years.”

He adds that, based on some component suppliers’ maximum production capacity estimates, Vision Pro shipments in 2024 will be at most 400,000–600,000 units, which is less than the market expectation of more than 1 million units.

“From a technical point of view, I believe that the Vision Pro will undoubtedly provide users with an excellent experience,” Kuo writes. “However, the question is why users need this product. The Vision Pro may take longer than the market expects to become the next star product of the iPhone.”

About the patent

In the patent, Apple notes that head-mountable devices, such as smart eyeglasses, head-mountable displays, headsets, visors, head-up display, and the like can perform a range of functions that is determined by the components (e.g., sensors, circuitry, and other hardware) included with the wearable device as manufactured. 

The tech giant says such a device should be lightweight and small in size so the user feels a reduced burden while wearing the head-mountable device across a long duration of time. Other outputs provided by the head-mountable device can include audio output and/or haptic feedback. A user may further interact with the head-mountable device by providing inputs for processing by one or more components of the head-mountable device. For example, the user can provide tactile inputs, voice commands, and other inputs while the device is mounted to the user’s head.

Summary of the patent

Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “Head-mountable devices can include a light projection display element that is directly coupled to an assembly that includes a waveguide. Such a direct coupling can be achieved by bonding the light projection display element directly to a lens or other optical component that is, in turn, directly coupled to the waveguide. Such an optical module can be assembled outside of the head-mountable device for precision alignment and subsequently installed as an integrated unit. These measures can help maintain component alignment while allowing a head-mountable device to be lightweight and small in size.”

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher 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.