Apple Glass is on pace to define the future of AR wearables, but its biggest obstacle upon launch will be adoption and accessibility. A new patent suggests Apple could have a fix for that, though.
As spotted by Patently Apple (opens in new tab), the USPTO awarded the Cupertino company a patent for a in-headset vision correcting system that eliminates the need to wear prescription lenses beneath an augmented reality device. The patent proposes built-in optics that rectify vision issues like astigmatism and nearsightedness.
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In other words, the system would be capable of identifying vision problems and automatically adjust the refraction of displays and lenses to help the user see.
This would allow Apple to cater to the large population of people who can't just wear a headset worry-free. Vision Council of America (opens in new tab) says about 75% of adults use some sort of vision correction, whether it be glasses, contacts or a combination of the two.
“If this is real and works for all, this solves the flaw that I expected would forever doom smart glasses in the consumer space,” said my colleague Henry T. Casey, who has worried about the experience of testing AR glasses that require swapping different prescription lenses in and out.
According to Jon Prosser, the leaker behind most of the Apple Glass rumors we've heard so far, Apple Glass will offer the option for prescription at an added premium to the proposed $499 price.
But that likely means interested users can submit their prescription upon ordering Apple Glass. Whether they would be able to get their AR glasses adjusted if their prescription changes is unknown.
Either way, it's unlikely Apple Glass as we currently know it will support this vision correcting system. But if it does, smart glasses would be much easier to adopt.
We could see it come to fruition in an Apple mixed reality headset, which we've heard less about but has also been rumored for some time. With the expected bulk of headset, there's more opportunity to outfit an optical system inside.
Then, of course, there's the question of who would want to wear a bulky headset around.