Apple Glass could clean themselves — and change the way you see the world

Apple Glass
(Image credit: idropnews/Martin Hajek)

More potential Apple Glass features have appeared in Apple patent filings, including the likes of self-cleaning capabilities and a 3D audio feature that could let you navigate by sound.

Apple Insider reported that Apple applied filed with USPTO for a system titled “Audio-Based Feedback for Head-Mountable Device.” This would use multiple microphones that detect sounds, even those your own ears might struggle to pick up. And the prospective smart glasses could provide visual indicators that direct the user to the source of the sound.

The rumored Apple Glass isn’t named anywhere. But this feature was clearly conceived with smart glasses in mind, as the lenses could show these visual notifications as part of a heads-up display.

The idea of using microphones that can detect sounds outside your normal field of hearing also suggests a navigational purpose behind this feature: helping you find your way around familiar places by using sound cues as well as visual references. That said it could also have potential as a hearing aid, providing visual warnings of more nearby sounds like traffic or shouting.

Further to this, an older patent indicated the Apple Glass could use onboard speakers to produce realistic sound effects in tandem with visual elements. So the glasses could potentially even play synthesized versions of sounds the user can’t hear, but the microphones can detect.

Apple has also apparently looked into making the Apple Glass self-cleaning. Yet another USPTO filing, titled “Particle Control for Head-Mountable Device,” describes an “optical module that removes particles from an optical pathway and captures the particles so they do not interfere with the user's view.”

This sounds even more futuristic than 3D audio, and the patent doesn’t fully explain how such a module would clear dirt from the Apple Glass’ lenses. The closest it comes to is mentioning an actuator device that would “vibrate the display element,” so it would most likely work by shaking detritus off the Apple Glass by vibrating the lenses.

It all sounds very fancy, but then these are only the latest bleeding-edge features rumored for the Apple Glass. Others have included Zoom-style backgrounds for the display and augmented low-light vision. Meanwhile, one leak actually went the other way, suggesting Apple Glass would use an iPhone screen in a similar manner to Google Cardboard.

At this point, it’s arguably a safe bet to say Apple currently is working on the Apple Glass. But we’ll need to wait and see which features end up making it onto the finished product.

James Archer

James is currently Hardware Editor at Rock Paper Shotgun, but before that was Audio Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he covered headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also wrote computing and gaming news for TG, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.