Apple today won 42 patents for several HMD Eye-Tracking systems and more

Report updated 11:25 am PST: Added a new image group related to Eye-Tracking and more

The US Patent and Trademark Office today officially announced a series of 42 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. published. In this particular report, we briefly discuss two inventions of eye-tracking/eye-gazing systems and one HMD patent that includes a mechanical method to automatically clean eyeglass displays from particles or debris. And, as always, we’re closing this week’s patent grant report with our traditional list of the remaining patents granted to Apple today.

Particle control for head-mounted device displays

Apple notes that components of a head-mounted device may include one or more optical modules that provide images and/or displays (for example, to an external environment). Such optical modules may include a display element and/or optical elements that enhance a user’s vision by automatically removing particles or debris from the lenses.

The quality of the image provided by the optical module may depend on the clarity of the optical path between the source of the image and the eye of the user. For example, particles (e.g., dust, dirt, foreign objects, and/or other materials) along the optical path may obstruct, distort and/or otherwise adversely affect the view provided to the user.

In particular, when a display element includes a high-resolution display, such particles on a surface of the display element can block entire pixels and/or multiple pixels, so that the image sent to the user is changed from its intended shape.

Particles can accumulate along the optical path during the lifetime of the head-mountable device. An optical module can be sealed to prevent and/or limit the ingress of virtually all particles from an external environment. However, even when an internal chamber of an optical module is sealed, particles can migrate from the chamber due to degradation, erosion, friction, wear and/or aging of components. When such particles are generated and/or released, they may collect on the display element and/or another optical element along the optical path.

Systems of the present disclosure may include a head-mountable device with an optical module that removes particles from an optical path and captures the particles so that they do not interfere with a user’s view of and/or through optical elements. for, for example, the display element and/or another optical element can be moved in a manner that releases particles onto a viewing surface.

Apple’s patent FIG. 1 illustrates an HMD; Fig. 3 illustrates a sectional view of an optical module of the head mount device.

Furthermore, in patent FIG. 3, an optical module can provide visual output for display by a user. It will be clear that separate optical modules can be provided for each of the two eyes of the user. Each of the optical modules can be adapted to align with the user’s corresponding eye. For example, one or more module drivers #150 may be provided to move the optical module relative to the frame of the main mountable device. By further example, each optical module can move along a rail #152 shown below.

2 apple patent figs 1 and 3

For more information, see Apple’s granted patent 11,327,316

Two Head Mounted Device (HMD) Patents Granted to Apple Today

Patent granted 11,330,241: Title “Focusing for Virtual and Augmented Reality Systems.” The patent covers yet another gaze/eye tracking system.

The patent granted by Apple covers various embodiments of methods and devices for focusing in virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) devices based on gaze tracking information. Embodiments of a VR/AR device such as a headset, helmet, goggles, or goggles (referred to herein as a head-mounted display (HMD)) are described that include a display mechanism (e.g., left and right near-eye display panels) for displaying of frames including left and right images in front of a user’s eyes to provide virtual 3D views to the user. The HMD may include left and right optical lenses (referred to herein as eyepieces) located between the display and the user’s eyes. For AR applications, the HMD may contain or be linked to one or more external video cameras that capture video of the user environment for display. The HMD may include a controller that may, for example, display frames for display on the left and right displays.

AR HMDs may have external cameras attached to closed-circuit display panels. Note that the remote cameras may be connected to the HMD or may be located in a remote location for telepresence applications. The external cameras may include an autofocus mechanism that allows the cameras to automatically focus on surrounding objects or surfaces. With conventional HMDs, however, the autofocus mechanism can focus on something the user is not looking at. In embodiments of an HMD as described in the patent, the controller for AR applications can use the gaze tracking information obtained from the gaze tracking system to direct the autofocus mechanism of the external cameras to focus in the direction of the user’s gaze, so that the remote cameras focus on objects in the environment that the user is currently looking at. The controller can estimate the user’s point of view on the screen based on the gaze tracking information obtained from the gaze tracking system.

The gaze point estimated from the information captured by the gaze tracking system can be used to determine the direction in which the user is looking. The controller can then direct the external cameras to focus in the determined direction. The autofocus mechanism of the external cameras can then focus the camera lenses on an object or surface in the environment that the user is currently looking at on the screen.

Apple’s patent FIG. 1E below illustrates focusing eyepieces in VR HMDS based at least in part on gaze tracking information; IG. 2 shows a side view of an exemplary HMD implementing a gaze tracking system; and FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating components of an exemplary VR/AR system that includes a gaze tracking system.

3x Apple eye gaze focus system patent figs.

Patent Granted 11,327,561: Title “Display System.” This patent relates to another eye-tracking system. Apple’s patent FIG. 2 below illustrates an optical system with two display panels per eye viewed through a beam-splitting eyepiece

(Click on image to enlarge)

3 apple eyetracking system patent figs.

The Remaining Patents Granted to Apple Today

4 - Apple's remaining patents granted before May 10, 2022 -

10.52FX - Awarded Patent Bar

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