Apple is working on glasses for virtual and augmented reality. The patents held by the company say a lot about these Apple glasses of the future, one of the most exciting new Apple products in a long time.
The Apple glasses patents
A company protects its invention with a patent. Apple is one of the largest parties when it comes to patents. Tim Cook’s company is committed to ensuring that the competition does not run off with his ideas.
Patents can be roughly divided into two categories: patents that have been granted and patents that have been applied for. In this article, we’ll focus on some of the interesting patents that Apple has actually been granted, as this says the most about the products coming to the market.
Your eye and head movements are tracked
Apple holds a patent where you eye movements be tracking. The manufacturer also has the technology to determine what your dominant eye is, so that the glasses know better what you are looking at. That is interesting, because the glasses always best depict what you are looking at.
Another technology that Apple has the rights to is the ability to watch what you’re about to watch to predict. To do this, we look at the minute eye movements you make before you actually put your view on something else.
Apple also owns the technology that allows the glasses of all kinds movements of your head. Think of chewing, blinking your eye, giving a wink, smiling, raising an eyebrow or squeezing your eyes. This can be used, for example, for an avatar that copies your movements. Think of an expanded version of the Memoji.
The real and virtual worlds merge seamlessly
Apple holds a patent for a ‘scene camera‘. This camera records the environment, for example to analyze the edges, objects and depth in the environment. Then virtual elements can be added realistically, taking into account the edges in the environment itself.
With this patent, the environment can be captured from the same perspective as the user’s eyes, so that the real and virtual worlds merge seamlessly.
Vibrations in the ear tips or headband of the glasses
Apple owns a patent with which vibrations can be fed through in the ear tips or a headband of glasses. In this way, the user can be reminded to look in a certain direction. For example when someone is talking during a virtual meeting.
The technology can also be used to enhance the experience of listening to music, or to point out to the user in a game where the sound is coming from.
We get control
A controller is required to play games and use other apps in virtual and augmented reality. Apple has several patents for it interesting controllers, which may be a bit easier for the general public to understand than an analog stick and buttons. Apple is investigating all kinds of devices that you hold in your hand. Check the drawing below.
But we may not need an extra controller at all, because Apple has a patent that allows control via finger movements in the air.
One of the patents is specifically about the band that is placed around the head to keep the glasses in place. Apple has the technology that allows a 3D image made of your head to determine how best to wear the band for the most comfort. For example, by tightening the tires.
Apple has won a patent on smart footwear to play VR games. With these socks or shoes, the player should get the feeling of actually walking in the environment, through heat, cold and possibly even smoothness. In addition to the shoe, a special surface is required, such as a mat or other platform.
Images directly on your eyeball
How do you see the images while wearing the glasses? This can be done by placing a screen close to your eyes, but it can also be done differently. Apple holds a patent for a technology where the image is directly on you pixel by pixel eyeballs projected. An interesting way to display depth correctly.
What does this mean?
Apple seems to be working on different glasses, for virtual and augmented reality. The ultimate goal is small mixed reality glasses, to add digital elements to the real world.
The above patents are owned by Apple. We do not know whether these technologies will actually be used in the mentioned glasses and certainly not in which version of the glasses, but these fascinating patents make us dream about a very exciting future.
More about the Apple glasses
What exactly is Apple doing with regard to these glasses? We list the eight most important rumors about Apple’s AR glasses. Subscribe to the iPhoned newsletter to receive all the news about Apple glasses in your inbox.