In late January Patently Apple posted a patent application report titled “Apple Invention Details a Prescription Lens System for a Future Head-Mounted Display Device.” Apple’s patent related to a future mixed reality headset that would allow users with prescription glasses to put their unique lenses into the headset to eliminate the need to wear exterior glasses in the headset making it bulkier and less comfortable. Today, the US Patent & Trademark Office published another patent application from Apple that details a future Head Mounted Display (HMD) system with interchangeable lenses and the system supporting it.

 

Display System with Interchangeable Lenses

 

A head-mounted display (HMD) is a display device that is worn on a head of a user includes one or more display modules for displaying graphics to the user. Different users may have different refractive errors of their eyes, such that different users require different corrective lenses.

 

Apple’s invention covers implementations of display systems. In one implementation, a display system includes a display, a removable lens assembly, and a lens detection sensor.

 

The removable lens is removably coupleable to the display. The lens detection sensor detects the removable lens assembly coupled to the display. The display system may further include a head-mounted display unit that includes the display and the lens detection sensor. The display system may determine lens information from the removable lens with the lens detection sensor, and may provide an indicator of the removable lens according to the lens information.

 

In another implementation, a method is provided for operating a head-mounted display unit, which includes identifying a removable lens coupled to a display module of the head-mounted display unit, and providing an indication according to the identifying of the removable lens. The indication may be a configuration indication that differs between the removable lens and another removable lens coupleable to the display module. The method may further include identifying a user, while the indication may be a compatibility indication of compatibility between the removable lens and the user.

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In another implementation, a display system includes a head-mounted display unit and a removable lens assembly. The head-mounted display unit includes a display module. The removable lens assembly includes a lens element and a frame coupled to the lens element. The removable lens assembly may be removably to the display module in a single orientation with a magnetic attachment features coupled to the frame and surrounding the lens element.

 

The removable lens assembly may be removably coupleable to the display module with an interference fit, for example, with the removably lens include a compliant annular protrusion that receives a lens mount of the display module axially therein. The removable lens assembly may be removably coupleable to the display module with sprung latch mechanisms.

 

Lastly, the interchangeable lenses may be configured according to characteristics of different eyes of different users (e.g., according to an eyeglass prescription). For example, one pair of interchangeable lenses may be associated with (e.g., prescribed for) one user, while another pair of interchangeable. lenses may be associated with another user. The interchangeable lenses are mountable to the head-mounted display unit in an interchangeable manner such that different lenses may be mounted to the head-mounted display unit to accommodate different users with different eye characteristics. The interchangeable lenses may be mounted to the head-mounted display unit in various different manners.

 

Apple’s patent FIG. 1is a side view of a display system with hidden components illustrated in dashed lines; FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the display system of FIG. 1 taken along line 2-2 in FIG. 1; FIG. 13E is a cross-sectional view of the display module in a partially coupled state.

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2 HMD  interchangeable lens system

 

More specifically, Apple’s patent FIGS. 1 and 2 are part of a VR or Mixed Reality display system and one or more removable lens assemblies #120.

 

Referring to FIG. 13E: To couple the removable lens assembly #1320 to the display module #1310, the lens mechanical coupling feature #1322 is first inserted into the display mechanical coupling feature 1#312, and the removable lens assembly is rotated to bring the magnetic coupling features #1324 and #1314 closer to each other to magnetically couple. 

 

Apple’s patent FIG. 14A below is a schematic view of a display system; FIG. 15 is a flow chart of a process for determining compatibility of a removable lens and a user.

 

3 HMD interchangeable lens system

 

Further to FIG. 14A, the display system #100 may use the lens information of the removable lens assembly #120 coupled to determine compatibility with the user and accordingly provide a compatibility indicator to the user (e.g., only of incompatibility is determined).

 

The display system, in addition to determining the lens information of the removable lens assembly coupled to the head-mounted display unit, identifies the current user, and compares user information with the lens information to determine compatibility.

 

The display system may identify the user in various manners, for example, with biometric sensing, receipt of user credentials, and/or authentication by another device. To identify the user via biometrics, the display system may include a biometric sensor #1418d to identify the user with biometrics (e.g., facial recognition, fingerprint recognition, voice recognition, iris recognition, and/or recognition of other biometric parameters, such as ear geometry, bone conduction or density characteristics, forehead features, or skin).

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The biometric sensor is physically coupled to the head-mounted display unit. For example, in the case of identifying the user with iris detection, the biometric sensor may be the eye camera.

 

To identify the user via user credentials, the display system receives user credentials (e.g., a username and password) from an input device of or associated with the display system (e.g., a microphone of the head-mounted display unit, or an external device in communication with the controller or the head-mounted display unit).

 

To identify the user by authentication from another device, the external device may authenticate the user (e.g., via biometrics or credentials) and communicate such authentication to the controller. The external device may be considered part of the display system but may function independent thereof (e.g., an iPhone).

 

Apple’s patent application that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in Q2 2019. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.

 

Inventors: Franklin; Jeremy C.; (San Francisco, CA) ; Lin; Wey-Jiun; (Los Altos Hills, CA) ; Neale; Brandon R.; (Fremont, CA) ; Williamson; Heidi; (San Francisco, CA) ; Weber; Andreas G.; (Los Altos, CA) ; Wang; Forrest C.; (Petaluma, CA); Hobson; Phil M.; (Menlo Park, CA)

 

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