Apple has been rumored to be working on a pair of augmented reality glasses for some time now, but a new patent indicates that the device in development may end up being able to adjust how opaque the lenses are, which could help solve a major issue that AR glasses might otherwise face.
Current augmented reality glasses, like the Focals by North, work great — but when you’re in a brightly lit environment, it can be hard to see the image being projected over the top of your environment. This technology could change that. The tech seems to work similar to transition lenses.
The tech could even help the glasses function more as virtual reality glasses, at least somewhat blocking out things other than the projected image when you might want to do things like watch a video or concentrate on something. The tech would also eliminate the need to buy clip-on accessories.
The patent also gives other details about the tech. For example, it notes that a light source could automatically trigger an adjustment of the opacity of the glasses. It also notes that the glasses might feature a gaze-tracking system using a built-in camera, to help detect where on the display the user is looking.
Exactly when we see Apple’s long-rumored augmented reality glasses remains to be seen. The company has been rumored to be working on them for years now, butthe most recent rumors indicate that Apple is targeting a 2020 release, if it can manage to find a compelling application or use case for them. If it can’t, the company may instead wait a little and release them in 2021.
It also remains to be seen what they’ll look like. Many are hoping that the glasses will look like a normal pair of glasses that house smart tech inside the frame, but that will depend on whether or not Apple has been able to miniaturize the tech required for augmented reality glasses. Of course, many were hoping that the original Apple Watch would look like a normal circular watch — but Apple took its own route, and these days the Apple Watch is considered one of the better-designed smartwatches available.
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