Facebook wins a Patent for their future Smartglasses in the hopes of beating Apple to Market and Challenging the iPhone

Yesterday Patently Apple posted a report titled “Google wins a patent for future Smartglasses in the hopes of beating Apple to Market.” The report noted that both Google and Facebook are in a race to beat Apple to market with viable AR Glasses. Yesterday’s report presented you with a recent Google patent covering smartglasses and today we’ll point you to a recent Facebook patent focused on their future AR Glasses.

Facebook made it clear last December that that they’re currently developing their own operating system for their AR Glasses. They apparently have little to no interest in designing glasses that work with Android. And with Facebook’s recent whining about the App Store stopping their innovation, it’s about time that they create their own platform that they could control instead of bitching about the App Store. Be gone already.

Facebook knows that they missed out on the smartphone revolution and want to make sure that they can win a segment of the global market away from iOS and Android. Facebook believes that smartglasses will be a smartphone replacement device. It could be their chance of finally getting to play in the grownups sandbox.

Facebook’s Patent Background

Facebook’s patent which was granted to them in July mid-July 2020 begins with their patent background to explain issues that their invention was design to overcome or improve.

Facebook notes that “An artificial reality system, such as a head-mounted display (HMD) or heads-up display (HUD) system, generally includes a display configured to present artificial images that depict objects in a virtual environment. The display may display virtual objects or combine real objects with virtual objects, as in virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), or mixed reality (MR) applications. For example, in an AR system, a user may view both displayed images of virtual objects (e.g., computer-generated images (CGIs)) and the surrounding environment by, for example, seeing through transparent display glasses or lenses (often referred to as optical see-through) or viewing displayed images of the surrounding environment captured by a camera (often referred to as video see-through).

The user experience of using an artificial reality system may depend on several optical characteristics of the artificial reality system, such as the field of view (FOV), image quality (e.g., resolution), size of the eye box (to accommodate for eye and head movement), brightness of the displayed image, and the like.

In general, the FOV and the eye box should be as large as possible, the resolution (e.g., the total number of pixels or angular resolution) should be as high as possible, and the brightness of the displayed image should be high enough (especially for optical see-through AR systems).

For example, the eye box should allow for pupil movement caused by environmental use of the system (e.g., rotation of the eye and shift of the AR system), and allow for comfortable viewing of a large FOV with a desirable resolution.

HMDs that provide only a small eye box may substantially impair the user experience, because the CGI images can be impaired, or even disappear from the user’s vision, with a slight bump of the HMD or eye motions. However, increasing the eye box of the system may lead to a larger, heavier, more expensive, and less energy-effective system.

Pupil Steering Head-Mounted Display

Facebook’s invention titled “Pupil steering head-mounted display” relates to increasing the effective size of an eye box of a near-eye display device. In certain embodiments, the location of an eye box of an optical system in an artificial reality system may be dynamically adjustable based on the location of the user’s eye, which may be determined by tracking the location and/or shape of the pupil of the user’s eye.

In one example, the optical system may include a projector for projecting images of virtual objects and/or real objects, a combiner for combining light from the projected images and light from the surrounding environment, and a steerable deflector or reflector (e.g., one or more Micro-Electro-Mechanical System (MEMS) mirrors) that may be steered based on the tracked location of the pupil of the user’s eye to move the eye box of the optical system to the location of the pupil of the user’s eye. In this way, the eye box of the optical system can be relatively small and can follow the movement of the user’s eye.

According to some embodiments, a near-eye display system may include an image projector configured to form an image of a computer-generated image on an image plane. The near-eye display system may also include a deflector located at the image plane, where the deflector may be configurable, based on a location of a pupil of a user’s eye, to deflect incident light from the image to a corresponding direction. The near-eye display system may further include a relay optical subsystem configured to relay the image deflected by the deflector to an exit pupil of the near-eye display system, where a location of the exit pupil is at least partially determined by the corresponding direction of the deflected light and at least partially overlaps with the location of the pupil of the user’s eye.

In some embodiments of the near-eye display system, the relay optical subsystem may be configured to collimate light from each area of the image, and collimated light from different areas of the image may exit the exit pupil at different angles.

In some embodiments, the image projector may include an image source configure to display the computer-generated image and an optical projector configured to form the image of the displayed computer-generated image on the image plane.

In some embodiments, the image projector may include an optical image generator at the image plane.

Facebook’s patent FIG. 1 below is a block diagram of an example of an artificial reality system environment including a near-eye display.

2 facebook patent ar glasses

Facebook’s patent FIG. 2 below is a perspective view of an example of a near-eye display including various sensors according to certain embodiments; FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an example of a near-eye display including a projector.

3 Facebook AR Glasses

Facebook’s patent FIG. 15 above is a block diagram of an example of an electronic system of an example near-eye display for implementing some of the examples outlined in the granted patent.

To review the finer points of Facebook’s granted patent number 10,712,576 click here. Facebook originally filed for this patent in October 2018 and published by the U.S. Patent Office on July 14, 2020.

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