Imagine wearing a pair of glasses that automatically adjusts to your eyes in order to correct any deficiencies; instead of wearing prescription lenses, the lenses would automatically make the necessary changes. Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) awarded a patent to Apple for technology that would allow self-correcting lenses to be used on the rumored Apple Glass AR eyewear. The system seen in the patent illustrations shows a smartphone (like an iPhone) sliding into a frame. This would place the phone directly in front of the users’ eyes and allow it to plug into internal connectors so that it can be used as a display.
Apple has used the title of the patent, “Head-mounted display apparatus for retaining a portable electronic device with a display,” multiple times with each use adding another change to the design. The latest version of the patent deals with a system to change the position and configuration of the device’s optical components in line with the user’s prescription. The beauty of this is that it would allow the user to wear the headset without having to put it on top of corrective lenses or lenses. Besides adjusting the lens configuration to make up for the user’s prescription, the display can be adjusted to make images look clearer; this can be accomplished by changing the position of images on the lens and resizing content. Right now, however, it doesn’t appear that Apple Glass will be available with tinted lenses for a sunglasses variant.
The processing power required for the lenses to be automatically adjusted would come from a paired iPhone. In fact, like the original Apple Watch models which relied on a nearby iPhone to run many of the features on the timepiece, the first versions of Apple Glass will likewise obtain processing power from an iPhone. Eventually, it is hoped that Apple Glass users will be able to leave their iPhones at home and still have the AR shades handle tasks using on-demand processing.
Apple Glass is expected to be unveiled next year. Last month, tipster Jon Prosser disseminated some leaks revealing that Apple Glass will look like a traditional pair of glasses with options for prescription lenses. This would indicate that the self-adjusting lenses won’t be offered by Apple for the first version of the device. Prosser says that the device will cost $499 and while prototypes of the glasses have a plastic build, a version with metal frames will eventually be available. While there will be no cameras mounted on Apple Glass, the wearable will have a LiDAR time-of-flight depth sensor. First employed by Apple on the 2020 iPad Pro models, the sensor computes how long it takes for infrared light to bounce off of a subject and return to the device. With this information, more precise depth measurements can be calculated and used for enhanced bokeh blurs on portraits, improved AR capabilities, and more.
The camera available on Google Glasses became a controversial topic since users could snap photos of people without their knowledge. This led some bars to throw out patrons wearing Google Glasses and owners of the device were unceremoniously given the nickname “Glassholes.” Additionally, several movie chains, afraid that Google Glasses were being used to record bootlegs of newly released films, would not allow anyone wearing Google Glass to enter the theater. To prevent a repeat of this happening, Apple is reportedly going to employ a depth sensor only on Apple Glass.
Prosser says that Apple Glass buyers will get a plastic stand right out of the box for wireless charging. A dedicated UI called “Starboard” will use gestures on the frames or via the LiDAR sensor.