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Apple has filed a patent (US 20240004190 A1) for an “Eye Imaging System” system designed for its future Vision Pro headsets, whose first iteration is rumoured to be released by the end of this month.
Why does eye imaging matter?
Eye imaging is a technology that allows devices to monitor a user’s gaze. In the context of XR headsets, users can select objects, navigate menus, and even control the virtual environment simply by looking at them. This eliminates the need for traditional controllers, making the experience more immersive and natural.
Existing eye-tracking techniques in HMDs often face limitations due to how the cameras are positioned. They typically capture the eye at an angle, leading to inaccurate tracking, especially when the user’s eyes are close to the display.
Apple’s patent describes a new system that uses a waveguide in the Vision Pro’s display component to relay an un-distorted image of the eye directly to a sensor. This allows for accurate PCCR (Pupil Center Corneal Reflection) gaze tracking, even when the display is close to the user’s eyes.
It is important to note that this is just a patent filing, and it is not guaranteed that this technology will be included in the final version of the Vision Pro. However, it gives us a glimpse into Apple’s vision for the future of eye tracking in XR headsets and what we might expect from the versions of Vision Pros when released.