Apple patent filing involves gaze detection for iOS, macOS, watchOS devices

Future iOS, watchOS, and perhaps macOS devices may allow you to control some user interface elements with your eyes. Apple has been granted another patent (number 20190035356) for “electronic devices with orientation compensation.” It’s the fifth patent filing by the tech giant that involves some form of gaze detection.

According to the summary of the invention, an electronic device can sport components that experience performance variations as the device changes orientation relative to a user. Changes in the orientation of the device relative to the user can be monitored using a motion sensor. 

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As for gaze detection, a camera may be used to periodically capture images of a user's eyes. By processing the images to produce accurate orientation information reflecting the position of the user's eyes relative to the device, the orientation of the device tracked by the motion sensor can be periodically updated. 

In the patent filing, Apple notes that many electronic devices have displays, speakers, microphones, and other components whose performance can vary as a function of their orientation with respect to a user. As an example, stereo sound can become unbalanced as a user moves away from one speaker and towards another speaker in a stereo sound system. 

As another example, the color of pixels in a display may vary as a function of viewing angle. Apple says these variations can degrade device performance by creating undesired audio and visual artifacts as the orientation of a device changes with respect to a user. Apple is looking into various means of overcoming this problem.

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.