Thursday, January 26, 2023

Apple files for four more patents for the rumored ‘Apple Glasses’

Apple has filed for four more patents for the rumored “Apple Glasses,” an augmented reality/virtual reality/mixed reality head-mounted display (HMD).

Patent filing number 20210068277 is for a “head-mounted device with tension adjustment.” The goal is to make the HMD more comfortable and stay properly situated on a user’s head via a support structure.

The patent filing involves sensors that generate sensor output signals. The HMD also includes a tension controller that determines a tensioning command based on the sensor output signals, and a tension adjuster that applies tension to the user according to the tension command in order to restrain motion of the device housing with respect to the user.

Patent filing number 20210063744 is for an “optical module for a head-mounted device.” HMDs include display screens and optics that guide light from the display screens to a user’s eyes. By guiding light to each of the user’s eye’s separately, content can be displayed to the user in stereo vision, for example, as part of a computer-generated reality (CGR) experience, according to Apple. 

Patent filing number 20210063745 is for a “transparent display system with peripheral illumination.” To allow a head-mounted device to display a computer-generated image that is overlaid on top of real-world images, the Apple Glasses may have a transparent display system. The system may have an optical combiner that merges real-world image light with computer-generated content. 

Apple says that it can be challenging to provide a HMD with desired optical properties. The angular range of computer-generated images may be restricted due to constraints on device size and complexity. As a result, sometimes it’s not possible to provide satisfactory visual output in a user’s peripheral vision. 

This can create situations where computer-generated objects are abruptly cut off as they move out of the center of a display. It can also make it difficult or impossible for a user to be alerted to the presence of computer-generated content that is in the user’s peripheral vision. Apple wants its Apple Glasses to overcome such limitations.

Patent filing number 20210064910 is for “image-based detection of surfaces that provide specular reflections and reflection modification.” The goal is for the Apple Glasses to detect mirrors, reflective glass, liquids, and other reflective surfaces and actively blend them with CGR scenes.

The patent filing involves providing a CGR environment that includes virtual content that replaces the appearance of a user or the user’s device in a mirror or other surface providing a reflection. For example, a CGR environment may be modified to include a reflection of the user that does not include the device that the user is holding or wearing. 

In another example, the CGR environment is modified so that virtual content, such as a newer version of the electronic device or a virtual wand, replaces the electronic device in the reflection. In another example, the CGR environment is modified so that virtual content, such as a user avatar, replaces the user in the reflection.

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 accompanying Apple Glasses mock-up is courtesy of Popular Mechanics.

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.