Patent Filing Reveals Additional Details About Facebook’s Augmented Reality Glasses
The Facebook augmented reality glasses are still years away from reality but we finally have a few details on how they might look and work.
Facebook has a new patent filing that now reveals more details about its upcoming augmented reality glasses including information on how the audio will work. The patent was filed in January this year but it was only published on Thursday, May 24. The patent talks of a “cartilage conduction audio system” for the Facebook eyewear device.
The overall design of the glasses is similar to the one that was released in an earlier patent published in 2017. However, the glasses are still much further along than originally expected. It would be quite sometime before we ever see a product.
The glasses will use sensors, including those sitting inside the ear to project sound into the ear while also enabling the wearer to hear the ambient sounds in the surrounding environment. The concept is similar to that of the headphones such as Bose headphones and audio AR sunglasses that leverage bone conduction to transmit sounds into the ear. However, the patent says the cartilage conduction method that Facebook is working on is more reliable and comfortable than bone conduction.
The audio system of the wearable consists of a transducer that will be coupled to the back of the user’s ear. The transducer will generate the sounds by vibrating at the back of the user’s ears. This will in turn vibrate the cartilage in the user’s ear so as to generate the acoustic waves that will correspond to the incoming audio content.
Facebook is aiming at designing an AR device that will achieve the dual aim of delivering the sound while not interfering with the ambient noise thereby allowing the wearer to interact with the surrounding environment. This design also suggests that Facebook is aiming at building augmented reality glasses that will be worn for a longer duration of time. The patent states that a user wearing an immersive system will be able to derive benefits from keeping their ear canals open and not having it covered entirely by the audio device. According to the patent, this will enable the wearer to get a safe and immersive experience while also getting the spatial cues from the ambient sound coming from the surrounding environment through the unobstructed ear canal.
Although Facebook has alluded to the AR glasses project several times in the past, not much is known about the effort so far. In 2017, Facebook had predicted that its AR device would be ready within 5 years, which means the product would have been launched by 2022 as per its initial projections.
The Facebook Reality Labs currently has a VR and AR research division that is working on the development of its augmented reality glasses.