The US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple relating to a mixed reality headset with emphasis on Augmented Reality which allows a user to view real-world objects while viewing images overlaid on top of real-world objects.
Apple’s invention covers an electronic device such as a mixed reality headset that has a laser light source such as a laser light source that emits light into a waveguide. A phase grating may diffract the light. Diffracted light may pass through an angled edge of the waveguide to a mirror element in a scanning mirror system that is coupled to the edge of the waveguide.
A wave plate may be used to change the polarization state of light reflected from the mirror element relative to incoming diffracted light from the phase grating. The phase grating may be configured to be polarization sensitive so that reflected light of a particular polarization is not diffracted by the phase grating. Alternatively, a reflective polarizer may be interposed between the phase grating and the waveguide.
The phase grating may be a Bragg polarization grating, an overmodulated transmission grating, a reflection or transmission volume hologram, or other suitable phase grating.
During operation, control circuitry may dynamically adjust the intensity and color of light emitted by the light source while controlling the two-dimensional scanning of the mirror element. The reflected light from the mirror is guided along the waveguide to an output coupler.
The output coupler directs the reflected light to an eye box, so that a user’s eye in the eye box receives an image corresponding to the output produced by the scanning mirror and light source. The output coupler and light guide may be transparent, which allows the user to view real-world objects while viewing the images overlaid on top of the real-world objects.
Apple’s patent FIG. 1s a schematic diagram of an illustrative electronic device, such as a mixed reality head display; FIG. 2 is just one of many diagrams of illustrative display systems for a mixed reality headset.
The key parts of the patent cover the light source for the display system and its many sensors. The list of sensors is extensive and includes the following:
Touch, Force Touch
Apple’s patent application that was published on Thursday by the U.S. Patent Office was originally filed back in Q1 2019. There is a reference to a 2018 provisional patent that is incorporated in this latest patent application. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
Some of the Inventors
Francesco Aieta: PPO Optics; Specialized in the study and design of novel nano-photonics devices for light-field display, imaging and sensing applications. Specialties: AR/VR, Optics, Nanophotonics, Displays, Holography, Characterization of optics, Nanofabrication, Infrared and visible optics.
Mr. Aieta previously worked at Leia Inc. that develops advanced camera nanotechnology. The company works closely with RED Digital Cinema; a company that is developing depth TV, interactive games and mixed reality.
Apple has created a Panel Process and Optics (PPO) Engineering team. On August 22, 2019 Apple posted a job opening on Glassdoor for a “Module Process Engineer – PPO.” Apple’s overview of the position is presented below in-part as follows:
“Apple is looking for a Module Process Engineer to join our ‘Panel Process and Optics (PPO) Engineering team.’ Module Process Engineers are responsible to develop new innovative manufacturing process technologies to solve complex design challenges that have direct impact to future product, quality and delivery of Apple Displays & Touch. Individual in this role will serve as a focal point in the process development of advanced key process modules from the concept/architecture stage through product engineering validation builds. We work at a fast pace and require everyone to be highly self-motivated. A successful candidate needs to be a flexible thinker and be able to problem solve outside of their respective technical area.”
Other inventors listed on Apple’s patent include:
Mahsa Kamali: Engineering Program Manager. Kamali previously worked at Amazon Robotics.
Eric Hansotte: Senior Display Exploration Engineer; experience with diffractive optics, laser systems, holography, UV systems, micro and integrated optics and more.
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