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Apple Glass might still be on cards, new patent reveals adjustable lenses

Apple is long-rumoured to be working on its own smart glasses and a new patent might give an idea of what to expect.

UPDATED: December 22, 2020 | 12:23 IST

Apple is under the spotlight again for its self-driving car that it began working on some years ago. A new report suggests the first such vehicle might arrive sometime in 2024. While that may be happening in the future, another ambitious plan that Apple has had for many years has returned to the rumour mill. A new patent filed by Apple shows its Apple Glass might still be on the cards. The patent shows the smart glasses will come with adjustable lenses that change according to the ambient light around the person wearing them.

Apple Glass, which is the long-rumoured term for the company’s smart glasses, has not been diagrammed in the patent but adjustable lenses are an interesting feature. The patent filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), spotted by PhoneArena, is titled “Display System With Localized Optical Adjustments”. This pertains to the adjustments that the lenses on the Apple Glass will likely make in accordance with what the surrounding light allows. Think of it like your smartphone display, or better the smart speaker display such as Nest Hub, which changes the colour and temperature of the screen according to different times and ambient light, respectively.

In the patent, Apple has stated: “An adjustable lens system may be adjusted dynamically to accommodate different users and/or different operating situations. Adjustable light modulators may be used to selectively darken parts of a user’s field of view.” Simply put, this means that there will be light receptors on the smart glasses that will inform the lens to change focal length according to the light available in the surroundings. This is a new technology, something that we have not seen in previous instances of smart glasses, such as Google Glass and Snap’s Spectacles. Google, in fact, sells only the Enterprise Edition of its smart glasses, which are useful for workers of various industries.

Apple Glass

The iPhone maker has further added, “a head-mounted display system is being used to display computer-generated content that overlaps real-world objects, the brightness of the real-world objects can be selectively decreased to enhance the visibility of the computer-generated content.” This certainly hints at the feature that will allow the wearer to change the brightness of how you are seeing the real world in the glasses. This will make the digital content more visible and legible enough for interaction.

“In particular, a spatially addressable adjustable light modulator may be used to generate a dark region that overlaps a bright real-world object that is overlapped by computer-generated content in the upper right corner of a user’s field of view,” the patent has noted further. In a nutshell, this would mean darkening the view of the real world to make room for the computer-generated objects to take all space on the smart glasses.

For now, it is not clear if Apple will move ahead with the plan to actually launch its smart glasses because patents do not necessarily mean the product is going to become alive. Apple is known for giving its own touch to the products it makes and Apple Glass sounds like one. While there is nothing wrong in growing the anticipation for this pair of glasses, I will not raise my hopes given Apple’s history of abandoning some products that people have most longed for. Remember, Apple AirPower?

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