Patent shows how Apple Glass could project images directly onto your retina

Patent shows how Apple Glass could project images directly onto your retina
The Apple Glass is one of those products that occupy the headlines for months, even years, yet remain mysterious as a quantum field theory. Rumors about Apple’s AR glasses started to appear two years ago, and since then patents have flooded the internet.

The latest of the bunch is a science-fiction-sounding “Direct retinal projector” patent, which was filed way back in 2016, yet granted and published today. The patent in question describes “a light beam generated by a scanning projector, reflected off a curved mirror (e.g., a curved ellipsoid mirror) in front of the subject's eye and through the subject's pupil, then forming an image on the subject's retina - there is no intermediate image on a screen or surface that the subject views.”

With this patent, Apple aims to completely get rid of displays in their Apple Glass product. According to the document, this approach allows for better immersion in AR and VR scenarios, removing the "accommodation-convergence mismatch problems."

"Accommodation-convergence mismatch arises when a VR or AR system effectively confuses the brain of a user," writes Apple in the document, "by generating scene content that does not match the depth expected by the brain based on the stereo convergence of the two eyes of the user."

In other words, when the AR/VR glasses display an image of an object, trying to trick your eyes into focusing on it, as though it’s far away in the distance, your brain kinda senses that the real image is much closer to your eyes. If the image is projected directly onto the retina, there’s no mismatch between the expected depth and the resulting image, eliminating eyestrain and/or the increased mental stress associated with the accommodation-convergence mismatch.

It appears that Apple has been working on this idea for at least five years, judging by the date this patent was first filed. According to the latest information, Apple Glass AR is set to debut at WWDC 2022 next year, alongside the iPod 8.

Apple Glass patents so far

We’ve already mentioned that this “Direct retinal projector” is just the latest out of a huge pile of patents regarding Apple Glass.

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Late last year a new Apple Glass patent application showed lenses adjusting to ambient lighting, selectively decreasing the real-world brightness in order to boost the computer-generated image.

Another patent popped up at the begging of 2021, depicting a feature where Apple Glass automatically unlocks other gadgets inside Apple’s ecosystem. This one is a feature that many wearables already have, serving as a remote secure authentication device.

Things got even more interesting when another patent filing was unearthed back in February, this time describing a self-cleaning feature for the Apple Glass device. In this patent, Apple's innovative engineers have come up with a way to "shake" the Glass free of dust using vibration.

From the same month and year, another patent filing showed how Apple Glass might detect sound and direct you to its origin. That might turn out to be a very useful feature for a device you wear on your head and look (kinda) through it.

Finally, a major Apple Glass leak revealed $499 price, and some interesting features, such as a LiDAR integrated on the right temple of the glasses. This leak suggested an announcement date sometime in Q3/Q4 2021, which is clearly not happening.

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