Apple has been granted a patent (number 11,366,321) for “predictive dimming of optical passthrough displays.” It would allow the rumored “Apple Glasses” — an augmented reality/virtual reality/mixed reality headset — to be used as “smart sunglasses.”
About the patent
In the patent, Apple notes that, when using a head-mounted display (HMD), a person may sense and/or interact with a computer generated reality (CGR) object using any one of their senses, including sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. can include an optical passthrough display. The company’s Apple Glasses may have an optical passthrough display that includes a globally dimmable layer that could dim light passing through the optical passthrough display.
By controlling the dimming level, the HMD can be operated as “smart sunglasses” that automatically dim according to ambient light levels. The dimming level could be controlled based on other considerations, such as a predicted ambient light level at a future time (e.g., when approaching a tunnel or heading outdoors) or an eye measurement (e.g., a gaze direction or pupil dilation).
Summary of the patent
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “In one implementation, a method of controlling a dimming level of dimmable optical element based on a predicted ambient light level is performed at a device including one or more processors, non-transitory memory, and a dimmable optical element. The method includes predicting a change, in a first direction, in an ambient light level at a future time.
“The method includes changing, at a first time in advance of the future time and in the first direction, a transmission coefficient of the dimmable optical element based on the predicted change in the ambient light level. The method includes changing, at a second time after the first time and in a second direction opposite the first direction, the transmission coefficient of the dimmable optical element based on the ambient light level at the second time.”