Apple granted patent for eye-tracking features for the rumored ‘Apple Glasses’

Apple has been granted a patent (number 10,976,817) for a “method and device for eye tracking with content-embedded glints.” It involves the rumored “Apple Glasses,” an augmented reality/virtual reality/mixed reality head-mounted display (HMD).

In the patent data, Apple notes that eye tracking is a useful input for the AR/VR experience. However, eye tracking is often accomplished with the use of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) fixed to the HMD. This increases the hardware cost and footprint associated with the HMD. Apparently, Apple thinks that the answer is the use of “glints” — tiny, quick flashes of light.

Here’s the summary of the invention: “In one implementation, a method includes: synthesizing an AR/VR content stream by embedding a plurality of glints provided for eye tracking into one or more content frames of the AR/VR content stream; displaying, via the one or more AR/VR displays, the AR/VR content stream to a user of the HMD; obtaining, via the image sensor, light intensity data corresponding to the one or more content frames of the AR/VR content stream that include the plurality of glints, wherein the light intensity data includes a projection of an eye of the user of the HMD having projected thereon the plurality of glints; and determining an orientation of the eye of the user of the HMD based on the light intensity data.”

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 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.