Apple Patent Outlines Direct Retinal Projection To Beam AR Images Onto Your Eyeballs
Apple is looking into how it may change how you view AR (augmented reality) altogether...literally. Instead of projecting an image onto a lens, which is viewed by someone wearing an AR headset or glasses, Apple envisions beaming the image directly onto the user's eyeball itself.
Apple recently unveiled its upcoming lineup of new products. What it did not showcase, however, was revealed in a recent patent—Apple is shown researching how it can change how we see AR and the future of its "Apple Glass" product, if one comes to exist. The patent reveals how Apple intends to move away from the traditional way of projecting an image onto a lens, to projecting the image directly onto the retina of the wearer. This will be achieved through the use of micro projectors.
The issue that Apple is trying to avoid is the nausea and headaches some people experience while viewing AR and VR (virtual reality). The patent states the issue as "accommodation-convergence mismatch," which causes eyestrain for some. Apple hopes that by using its "Direct Retinal Projector" it can alleviate those symptoms and make the AR and VR realm accessible for more users.
By projecting images directly onto the wearer's eyes, Apple says this will mimic how light normally comes hits our eyeballs. Apple recognizes that the patent does not cover all the issues that may arise from doing this, such as the strength of the projection and brightness of the light source. This leads one to believe that this technology is still early in its development and may not see actual production for some time (if at all—not all patents end up in products).
All of this places Apple in the fight for future AR and VR technology. Facebook recently revealed its plans for expanding beyond social media and entering into what it terms as the "metaverse" along with a possible rebrand. As competitors duke it out, the winner will hopefully be the consumer. If you want to see more about Apple's vision for the future of AR, check out its patent application.
What do you think of the idea of having an image projected directly onto your retina? Do you worry about long term damage, or are you eying the future with rose colored glasses? Let us know down in the comments.