Apple’s rumored augmented reality (AR) project, the Apple Glasses, may benefit from a comfort-enhancing feature that will set them apart from other mixed reality displays on the market – the ability to automatically adjust brightness.
A recent company patent, as spotted by AppleInsider, details an "electronic device with [an] adaptive display” that uses "control circuitry" to gather physiological attributes from the user’s eyes and adjust display brightness accordingly.
While it’s not entirely clear what "control circuitry" refers to here, Apple’s proposal does detail an ambient light sensor capable of detecting measurements such as “blink rate, pupil size and eye openness”.
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It’s also unclear whether this technology refers to Apple’s AR or VR project – the company reportedly has both in the works – with “electronic device” clarified only as a “head-mounted device” in the patent. With the latter expected to arrive first, though, it’s a safe bet to assume the Apple Glasses will also benefit from the feature.
In any case, given the frustrating degree of eye adjustment demanded of any user of any mixed reality headset available right now – Apple calls it “dazzle and discomfort” – it’s likely that both devices will come equipped with the ability to automatically adjust brightness.
While the patent is primarily concerned with how the "dynamic range of a head-mounted display may be perceived as insufficient depending on the adaptation state of the user's eyes" – in other words, improving comfort – the technology could also represent an innovative power-saving method.
That same ambient light sensor – while used primarily to track and change light levels – could double as a way to dim certain areas of the mixed reality experience not in sight of the user, thus sparing power.
What else might the Apple Glasses be capable of?
Official details regarding Apple’s mixed reality projects are few and far between, with most reports conflating AR and VR and therefore making it difficult to determine which features are rumored for which device.
There have been reports exclusive to the Apple Glasses, though, with one of the most exciting referring to a device – called Apple Glass – capable of displaying information on both lenses, controlled via user gestures both on and in front of the frames.
We’ve also heard mutterings that the AR glasses could arrive with LiDAR tracking – of the sort used in autonomous vehicle development – and up to six lenses, though it’s unclear whether this refers to optical glass or camera lenses.
As for their release date, don’t expect to see the Apple Glasses any time before 2023. The latest reports suggest the project remains in the early stages of development, and will almost certainly be preceded by an Apple VR headset that could arrive as early as next year.
We do know for sure, however, that Tim Cook and co. are working on a lineup of products designed to “blow you away” over the next few years – so it seems a sure bet to expect Apple will offer an exciting answer to the mixed reality question.
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