Apple files patents for foveated display and optical system and for ‘Apple Glasses’

rumored “Apple Glasses,” an augmented reality/virtual reality/mixed reality head-mounted display (HMD).

Patent number 10,930,219 is for a “foveated display.” Foveated imaging is a digital image processing technique in which the image resolution, or amount of detail, varies across the image according to one or more “fixation points”. A fixation point indicates the highest resolution region of the image and corresponds to the center of the eye’s retina, the fovea.

Apple says it can be challenging to display images on a display in a HMD. The tech giant says that high-resolution images are visually attractive, but may be difficult or impossible to present to a user without using large amounts of image data bandwidth and consuming large amounts of power. The company thinks that a foveated display is a possible solution.

Here’s the summary of the patent: “An electronic device such as a head-mounted device may have displays. The display may have regions of lower (L) and higher (M, H) resolution to reduce data bandwidth and power consumption for the display while preserving satisfactory image quality. Data lines may be shared by lower and higher resolution portions of a display or different portions of a display with different resolutions may be supplied with different numbers of data lines. 

“Data line length may be varied in transition regions between lower resolution and higher resolution portions of a display to reduce visible discontinuities between the lower and higher resolution portions. The lower and higher resolution portions of the display may be dynamically adjusted using dynamically adjustable gate driver circuitry and dynamically adjustable data line driver circuitry.”

Patent filing number 10,928,613 is for an “optical system for a head-mounted display.” Apple says that a HMD may be cumbersome and tiring to wear because optical systems for head-mounted displays may use arrangements of lenses that are bulky and heavy. Extended use of a head-mounted display with this type of optical system may be uncomfortable. And Apple wants its HMD to be very comfortable.

Here’s the summary of the patent filing: “head-mounted display may include a display system and an optical system in a housing. The display system may have a pixel array that produces light associated with images. The display system may also have a linear polarizer through which light from the pixel array passes and a quarter wave plate through which the light passes after passing through the quarter wave plate. 

“The optical system may be a catadioptric optical system having one or more lens elements. The lens elements may include a plano-convex lens and a plano-concave lens. A partially reflective mirror may be formed on a convex surface of the plano-convex lens. A reflective polarizer may be formed on the planar surface of the plano-convex lens or the concave surface of the plano-concave lens. An additional quarter wave plate may be located between the reflective polarizer and the partially reflective mirror.”

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.”

the authorDennisSellers
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.