A new patent reveals Apple’s plans to include eye-tracking technology to its AR glasses that is reportedly in limbo at the moment.
Previous reports indicated that Apple’s AR glasses, which was believed to be in the works, is in limbo after designer Jony Ive left the Cupertino tech giant left the company to start his own firm. A new patent, however, shows Apple’s plans for the AR glasses to have eye-tracking capabilities, which will set it apart from other AR glasses in the market today.
According to a patent published recently by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple is thinking of several ways to give its AR glasses eye-tracking capabilities. The patent, “Head mounted eye tracking device and method for providing drift free eye tracking through a lens system,” describes how this headset will track at least one eye by means of one or more cameras or sensors.
根据美国专利商标局(U.S. patent and Trademark Office)最近公布的一项专利，苹果正在考虑几种方法，让AR眼镜具备眼球追踪功能。该专利“头戴式眼睛跟踪装置和通过镜头系统提供无漂移眼睛跟踪的方法”描述了该耳机如何通过一个或多个相机或传感器跟踪至少一只眼睛。
The patent, first spotted by Patently Apple, described two embodiments that differ in one key component: lenses. The first embodiment described a headset where the wearer looks through an optical component made of one or more lenses, prisms or other optical component. The second embodiment, on the other hand, has free form lenses.
Regardless of the type of lenses used, the eye-tracking headset will keep track of where the eye looks using light. A camera will take pictures of the wearer’s eye to determine where it is looking, using methods such as raytracing, undistorting camera images, and reconstructing the eyes in virtual coordinate systems.
Without delving any deeper into the technicalities presented in the patent, we can summarize the design in this sentence: this is an eye-tracking device that uses cameras, light and specific technologies to monitor a wearer’s eye movements.
When can we expect this to arrive?
While the patent describes interesting technology that might find some useful applications in the future, it’s unclear if Apple will actually put this in a pair of AR glasses. At the moment, we don’t even have an announcement date for the AR glasses.
A Digitimes (paywall) report said Apple suspended its development, but since Apple itself hasn’t said anything about it yet, it’s best to take it all with a grain of salt. The patents prove Apple’s plans, but until the Cupertino tech giant confirms or denies reports, it’s best to take them lightly.