Apple has been granted a patent (number 10,852,553) for an electronic device with a “tunable lens.” It involves the rumored “Apple Glasses,” an augmented reality/virtual reality/mixed reality head-mounted display.
Like others of its kind, Apple’s HMD will sport optical systems with lenses. The lenses allow displays in the devices to present visual content to users.
Head-mounted devices typically include lenses with fixed shapes and properties. Apple says that if care isn’t taken, it may be difficult to adjust these types of lenses to optimally present content to each user of the head-mounted device. The tech giant wants its HMD to avoid such problems.
Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “A lens module in a head-mounted device may include a fluid-filled chamber, a semi-rigid lens element that at least partially defines the fluid-filled chamber, and at least one actuator configured to selectively bend the semi-rigid lens element. The semi-rigid lens element may become rigid along a first axis when the lens element is curved along a second axis perpendicular to the first axis. Six actuators that are evenly distributed around the periphery of the semi-rigid lens element may be used to control the curvature of the semi-rigid lens element.
“The semi-rigid lens element may initially be planar or non-planar. For example, the semi-rigid lens element may initially have a spherically convex surface and a spherically concave surface. A tunable spherical lens may be incorporated into the lens module to offset a parasitic spherical lens power from the semi-rigid lens element.”
When it comes to Apple Glasses, such a device will arrive next year or 2022, depending on which rumor you believe. It will be a head-mounted display. Or may have a design like “normal” glasses. Or it may 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.”