Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to Apple’s future Mixed Reality Head-Mounted Device (HMD) that will use a wave guided display system with adjustable lenses. This will allow the HMD to look thinner and modern instead of being bulky and heavy. The new system will also exhibit desired levels of optical performance.
Apple’s invention relates to a Mixed Reality head-mounted device that may be used to provide a user with computer-generated content that is overlaid on top of real-world content. The HMD will be tethered to an iPhone, iPad or Macs.
Apple notes that real-world content may be viewed directly by a user through a transparent portion of an optical system when in AR mode. In another mode, the real-world will be captured by face cameras on the HMD. The optical system may be used to route images from one or more pixel arrays or a scanning device in a display system to the eyes of a viewer.
A waveguide such as a thin planar waveguide formed from one or more sheets of transparent material such as glass or plastic or other light guides may be included in the optical system to convey image light from the pixel arrays to the viewer.
The illumination system may include a light source that supplies illumination for the display. The illuminated display produces image light. An input optical coupler may be used to couple light from the light source into a waveguide in the illumination system.
An output optical coupler may be used to couple display illumination out of the waveguide. Input and output couplers may also be used to couple image light from the display into a waveguide in the optical system and to couple the image light out of the waveguide for viewing by the viewer.
The input and output couplers for the head-mounted device may form structures such as Bragg gratings, prisms, angled transparent structures, and/or lenses that couple light into the waveguide and that couple light out of the waveguide.
Input and output optical couplers may be formed from diffractive couplers such as volume holograms, other holographic coupling elements, or other diffractive coupling structures.
The input and output couplers may, for example, be formed from thin or thick layers of photopolymers and/or other optical coupler structures in which holographic patterns are recorded using lasers.
In some configurations, optical couplers may be formed from dynamically adjustable devices such as liquid crystal components (e.g., tunable liquid crystal gratings, polymer dispersed liquid crystal devices), or other adjustable optical couplers.
Apple’s patent FIG. 1 below is a schematic diagram of an illustrative head-mounted device; FIG. 3 is a top view of an illustrative display system for a head-mounted device having a waveguide and liquid crystal lenses.
The architecture of Apple’s future Mixed Reality Headset is extremely complex. Although Apple’s patent FIG. 1 simplifies the system, you may want to review the wide array of technologies being considered for their headset in today’s patent application.
For instance, the sensors being considered include: motion sensors (e.g., compasses, gyroscopes, accelerometers, and/or other devices for monitoring the location, orientation, and movement of head-mounted display, satellite navigation system circuitry such as Global Positioning System circuitry for monitoring user location, etc.). Using sensors from #26 of FIG. 1, for example, control circuitry #12 can monitor the current direction in which a user’s head is oriented relative to the surrounding environment. Movements of the user’s head (e.g., motion to the left and/or right to track on-screen objects and/or to view additional real-world objects) may also be monitored using sensors.
If desired, the sensors may include ambient light sensors that measure ambient light intensity and/or ambient light color, force sensors, temperature sensors, touch sensors, capacitive proximity sensors, light-based proximity sensors, other proximity sensors, strain gauges, gas sensors, pressure sensors, moisture sensors, magnetic sensors, etc.
To review the details behind Apple’s patent application 20200049996 click here. The patent that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in Q3 2029 Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
Although the focus of the patent application relates to a future Head-Mounted Device, Apple notes that aspects of the invention could apply to other future devices such as an iPad, iPhone, smartglasses, head-up displays in cockpits, vehicles, etc., and display-based equipment (televisions, projectors, etc.).