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iGlasses, anyone? Apple patent involves adjustable lens system

I’ve said before that I wish Apple would release “smart glasses” (iGlasses?) along with the upcoming Vision Pro.

How about smart glasses for folks like me with mild vision problems that would automatically adjust to what you’re eyes are focusing on? In other words, they’d automatically adjust for near vision when reading, intermediate vision when working on a computer, and distance vision when looking at things, well, in the distance.

Such technology already exists in its infancy in the form of “Superfocus lens,” which mimic the function of a youthful eye, Kurtin said. A lens in the front part of the frame adjusts to correct myopia, or nearsightedness. A lens in the back has two surfaces, a rigid and flexible one, separated by a clear fluid. To correct close up vision, you move a slider along the frame’s bridge to push around the fluid and alter the shape of the lens.

I’d love to see Apple take it a step further with “iGlasses” that detect what your eyes are focusing on and adjusting accordingly. After all, the tech giant has been granted numerous patents for “gaze technology.”

A company called Imagistar has filed for a patent (number 20220262219) for “eye glasses with individual user awareness” that also hints at some features I’d love to see in iGlasses. And Apple has been granted a patent (number US 11703698 B1) for an “adjustable lens system” that gives me hope for such a device. (Admittedly, however, it may just involve prescription lens for the Vision Pro.)

About the patent 

The patent relates generally to optical systems, and, more particularly, to devices with tunable lenses. In the patent Apple notes that eyewear may include optical systems such as lenses. For example, eyewear such as a pair of glasses may include lenses that allow users to view the surrounding environment.

Apple says that it can be challenging to design lenses that function properly for users having different prescriptions. A user may not know or remember his or her lens prescription, or the user may provide a prescription that is inaccurate.

This is a diagram of illustrative system that includes eyeglasses with adjustable lenses.

Summary of the patent 

Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “Eyeglasses may include one or more lenses and control circuitry that adjusts an optical power of the lenses. The control circuitry may be configured to determine a user’s prescription and accommodation range during a vision characterization process. The vision characterization process may include adjusting the optical power of the lens until the user indicates that an object viewed through the lens is in focus. 

“A distance sensor may measure the distance to the in-focus object. The control circuitry may calculate the user’s prescription based on the optical power of the lens and the distance to the in-focus object. The control circuitry may adjust the optical power automatically or in response to user input. The object viewed through the lens may be an electronic device. The user may control the optical power of the lens and/or indicate when objects are in focus by providing input to the electronic device.”

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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.