First there was Google Glass Part 1, the single-eye monocular version of their Head Mounted Display which is simply known as Google Glass or Glass. Now Google Glass Part 2 is in the works which is about dual eye displays known as binocular Head Mounted Displays. This type of Glass holds a few more challenges concerning the perfecting of alignment so that computer graphic images (CGIs) projected onto the lenses are correct for both the right and left lenses. To achieve this, specialized lasers have been designed to pull it off just right. You know it's a serious project at Google when its co-founder Sergey Brin is the lead inventor.
Google Glass Part 2: Binocular
A head mounted display ("HMD") is a display device worn on or about the head. HMDs usually incorporate some sort of near-to-eye optical system to display an image within a few centimeters of the human eye. Single eye displays are referred to as monocular HMDs while dual eye displays are referred to as binocular HMDs.
Some HMDs display only a computer generated image ("CGI"), while other types of HMDs are capable of superimposing CGI over a real-world view. This latter type of HMD is often referred to as augmented reality because the viewer's image of the world is augmented with an overlaying CGI, also referred to as a heads-up display ("HUD").
HMDs have numerous practical and leisure applications. Aerospace applications permit a pilot to see vital flight control information without taking their eye off the flight path.
Public safety applications include tactical displays of maps and thermal imaging. Other application fields include video games, transportation, and telecommunications.
Due to the infancy of this technology, there is certain to be new found practical and leisure applications as the technology evolves; however, many of these applications are currently limited due to the cost, size, field of view, and efficiency of conventional optical systems used to implement existing HMDs, as well as, other technological hurdles that have yet to be adequately solved before HMDs will have widespread adoption in the marketplace.
In Google's latest Glass invention they're out to solve one of the known technological hurdles by focusing in on a system and method for sensing alignment between eye pieces of a binocular head mounted display ("HMD").
Overcoming Binocular Glass (or HMD) Deformation
One technological hurdle to overcome to further encourage marketplace adoption of HMD technology is identifying and compensating for binocular HMD deformation.
Deformation of a binocular HMD can lead to deleterious misalignment between the left and right image displays of the binocular HMD. These misalignments can result in a blurred or otherwise compromised image as perceived by the user, which ultimately leads to a poor user experience (disorientation, dizziness, etc.). Deformation can occur due to a variety of reasons including misuse, poor user fit, nonsymmetrical facial features, harsh environmental factors (e.g., thermal warping), or otherwise.
For example, if a binocular HMD is too narrow for a given user's head, the user's head will assert outward forces on each of the ear arms of the binocular HMD causing the ear arms to spread, thereby flexing the frontal display section about the nose bridge.
To a lesser extent, the opposite effect, by the ears applying an inward compressing force to the ear arms, can occur if the user's head is too narrow. Additionally, if the user's ears are not symmetrical (i.e., one ear is higher than the other), a torsion force (or twisting) can be applied to the ear arms causing the left and right sides of the binocular HMD to twist about the nose bridge. Both of these rotational deformations can result in misalignment between the right and left displays of a binocular HMD.
Google patent FIG. 1 shown below is a frontal view of a head mounted display with laser alignment sensors.
In Google Patent Figure 1 above we see a breakdown of what the system will consist of. The illustrated embodiment of binocular HMD 100 includes right display 105A and left display 105B (collective displays 105), a laser alignment sensor system 115, an alignment controller 125 (FIG. 2 or 3), and a frame. The illustrated embodiment of laser alignment sensor system 115 includes two laser alignment sensors, which each include a laser source 120 and a photo-detector array 122.
Although FIG. 1 illustrates a traditional eyeglass shaped frame, embodiments of the present invention are applicable to a wide variety of frame types and styles. For example, lower display supports 140 may be omitted, upper display supports 135 may be omitted, displays 105 may be rigid optical eye pieces that also function as structural frame members themselves, the frame may assume a visor-like shape, or otherwise.
Google's Patent FIGS. 5A-C are block diagrams illustrating a quadrant photo-detector 500 for measuring misalignment between right and left displays of a head mounted display.
Google's patent figure 8 shown below illustrates a frontal view of the HMD that includes various embodiments of mechanical actuators to correct frame deformations. Small misalignments may include small creeps in optics due to temperature variations, small forces, etc. This mechanical re-alignment may occur continuously in real-time (i.e., active alignment) or during a startup initialization phase each time the HMD 801 is turned on.
Google's patent application was originally filed under serial number 206338 in Q3 2011. It was published in Q1 2013 by the US Patent Office.
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