Apple’s rumored “Apple Glasses” — an augmented reality (AR)/mixed reality (MR) head-mounted display — may have an adjustable lens systems, per a new patent filing (number 202000272022).
In the patent filing, the tech giant says it can be “challenging” to design such devices as the optical systems in these devices may be insufficiently flexible or may not perform satisfactorily. Apple’s idea is for a head-mounted device with one or more displays that produce images that are viewable by the eyes of a viewer through adjustable lenses. The device may be a pair of virtual reality glasses (VR) or may be an augmented reality headset that allows a viewer to view both computer-generated images and real-world objects in the viewer’s surrounding environment.
The adjustable lenses may be liquid crystal lenses. A camera and other sensors in the head-mounted device may monitor the eyes of the viewer and may gather other information. Control circuitry in the head-mounted device may control the adjustable lenses based on measured characteristics of the eyes of the viewer such as interpupillary distance and direction-of-view.
The control circuitry may match the distance between the centers of the adjustable lenses to the measured interpupillary distance and may align the lens centers with the measured direction-of-view. The adjustable lenses may also be used to adjust focus and minimize distortion.
What’s more (and here it gets pretty technical): “The adjustable lenses may have transparent electrodes such as elongated indium tin oxide electrodes that are supplied with time-varying control signals by the control circuitry. The transparent electrodes may include a first set of electrodes on a first substrate and a second set of electrodes that runs perpendicular to the first set of electrodes on a second substrate. A liquid crystal layer may be interposed between the first and second substrates.”
When it comes to Apple Glasses, such a device will arrive next year or 2022, depending on which rumor you believe. It will be a head-mounted display. Or may have a design like “normal” glasses. Or it may 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.”