Lenses in Apple AR glasses might adjust to wearer’s eye prescription

Lenses in Apple AR glasses might adjust to wearer’s eye prescription

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A patent shows what Apple Glass AR glasses might look like.
Wow, glasses that self adjust so whatever you’re looking at is in focus.
Illustration: Apple

Apple is preparing for a future where you put on a pair of glasses and they automatically adjust themselves to your eyes. It received a patent on Tuesday for a system to handle this process. Self-adjusting lenses are likely intended for the augmented-reality glasses that Apple is rumored to be working on.

This could be the end of trips to the eye doctor to get a lens prescription. The glasses will take care it.

Apple AR glasses could have ‘tunable’ lenses

Apple on Tuesday was awarded a patent for Tunable and foveated lens systems (#11,221,488) by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The patent filing is technical, to say the least. But it starts with a pair of eyeglasses with adjustable lenses. “The adjustable lenses may include a foveated liquid crystal adjustable lens stacked with a non-liquid-crystal adjustable lens such as a fluid-filled lens or an Alvarez lens,” says the abstract section.

The proposed glasses will gather data about the wearer’s eyes, then adjust the optical power of the lens based on that data. The glasses will continue monitoring the wearer’s eyes to ensure the lenses are using the correct optical power.

A serious benefit for Apple glasses

Numerous leaks point to the iPhone-maker working on a pair of augmented-reality glasses. These would allow the wearer to do almost everything they do now with an iPhone, but through a heads-up display held in front of their eyes. They’d be worn everywhere, and information would be overlaid onto the real world, not replace it.

Those who need prescription lenses would have to have these fitted into the Apple AR glasses — but not if the glasses could adjust themselves to the wearer’s eyes.

Developing the technology needed to make all this mainstream will take years. Apple’s augmented-reality glasses aren’t expected before 2025, and may take longer. A VR headset with AR capabilities is expected much sooner.

And self-adjusting lenses might not happen. A patent filing isn’t a product announcement. Apple engineers frequently patent designs that are never seen again.