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Apple’s AR/VR head-mounted device could have an ultrasonic sensor

Apple has been granted a patent (number 11,346,940) that hints that the rumored “Apple Glasses” — an augmented reality/virtual reality head-mounted display — may have an ultrasonic sensor.

About the patent 

In the patent, Apple notes that today’s electronic devices provide users with many ways to interact with the world around them. For example, users may interact with electronic devices using electronic devices which may aid in detecting and identifying objects in an environment. For example, some devices provide visual-based object detection, in which cameras are utilized to detect and identify an object in an environment. 

However, some items are difficult to detect in an environment. For example, items may be outside a field of view of a camera, or may be difficult to detect by a camera. As an example, transparent or glass walls, doors, and the like may be difficult to detect by visual-based object detection. Mirrors may be another example of a type of item that may be difficult to detect using visual-based object detection. 

Apple says that what is needed is an improved system and method to detect objects in an environment. The tech giant’s idea is to equip its HMD with an ultrasonic sensor for object detection.

Summary of the patent

Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “Object detection may include transmitting, by a first device, a first pulse into an environment using a wide field configuration of an ultrasonic sensor array, detecting a presence of an object in the environment based on a detected echo based on the first pulse. In response to detecting the presence of the object, a targeted configuration of the ultrasonic sensor array is determined, and a second pulse is transmitted into the environment based on the second pulse, wherein a characteristic of the object is determined based on a detected echo from the second pulse.”

About Apple Glasses

When it comes to Apple Glasses, such a device will arrive in late 2022 or 2023, depending on which rumor you believe. It will be a head-mounted display. Or may have a design like “normal” glasses. Or it may be eventually be available in both. The Apple Glasses may or may not have to be tethered to an iPhone to work. Other rumors say that Apple Glasses could have a custom-build Apple chip and a dedicated operating system dubbed “rOS” for “reality operating system.”

Article provided with permission from AppleWorld.Today
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