In what seems to be further evidence of Apple’s venture into the emerging territory of head mounted displays, Patent # 9,429,759, approved today provides some clues around the company’s plan of positioning itself in this new wearable category.
The patent enhancement was filed on Sept 22, 2015 and approved on Aug 30, 2016.
The Patent provides details around Head-mounted display systems that allow users to couple and decouple a portable electronic device such as an iPhone or iPad. The invention addresses the need for an improved head-mounted display system, particularly a system that temporarily integrates or merges both mechanically and electronically a head-mounted device with a portable electronic device.
The HMD in this method will include an optical sub-assembly. The optical subassembly may be widely varied. The optical subassembly may include various optical components that may be static or dynamic components depending on the needs of the system.
The optical components may include, for example, but not limited to lenses, light guides, light sources, mirrors, diffusers, and the like.
The optical sub assembly may be a singular mechanism or it may include dual features, one for each eye/image area.
The head-mounted display system can operate in an external viewing mode, which allows the user to view the outside world. The head-mounted display system 200 can provide external viewing of the user’s surroundings using any suitable approach.
Similar to HTC Vive or the planned Sony PlayStation VR, Apple’s HMD could be equipped with a separate camera disposed on the outside of the head mountable device 202. In the illustrated embodiment, the portable electronic device includes a camera on its backside opposite the display screen and the head mounted device includes an aperture within the mounting region chat provides camera access to outside the head mounted device.
In this manner, the camera may capture image-based data that is in front of the user and further image frames corresponding to image based content received from the camera can be displayed in the standard image frame(s).
As with any other Apple Patents, It is uncertain if this will become an actual product. Could Apple be making plans to move into augmented and virtual reality? Or will it be a product that fizzles out like the Google Glass? Who knows. Only Time will tell.
What is important is that the thinking to move into HMD’s still exists at One Cupertino Drive.