23.07.19

Apple files face tracking mixed reality headset patent

Apple MR HMD
Official drawing of Apple's MR HMD patent - US Patent and Trademark Office

Apple has filed a patent for its own mixed reality headset, potentially featuring spatial, face and gesture tracking sensors to render 3D virtual views of a user's environment augmented with virtual content.

The patent, vaguely titled ‘Display System Having Sensors’, was originally filed in March, and details the incorporation of a head mounted display with sensors to provide spatial information such as video, depth and lighting information. The ‘world-facing sensors’ could gather information about the user's position, orientation, and motion in the environment and lighting information including colour, intensity, and direction in the user's environment.

The patent also specifies the potential for tracking a user’s facial expressions, eye movements and hand gestures.

Apple is no stranger to the AR/MR arena, having previously dabbled with the technology by developing its own facial tracking software for its Animoji app, rendering a user’s facial expressions through the analysis of more than 50 facial muscle movements to create personal animated avatars, however the development of its own mixed reality headset would mark the company’s first foray into the MR headset market, stepping up to challenge Microsoft’s own Hololens MR headset.