‘Apple Glass’ may help users see better in low light using radar and LiDAR

With a combination of radar, and the LiDAR now present in the iPad Pro and iPhone 12 Pro, “Apple Glass” could sense the environment around the wearer when the light is too low for them to see clearly.

We’ve been slowly learning what Apple plans for the LiDAR sensor in devices such as the iPhone 12 Pro, which uses it to help with autofocus. That focusing assistance, though, is particularly useful in low-light environments — and Apple has designs on exploiting that ability to help “Apple Glass” wearers.

“Head-Mounted Display With Low Light Operation,” is a newly-revealed patent application, which describes multiple ways of sensing the environment around the wearer of a head-mounted display (HMD).

“Human eyes have different sensitivity in different lighting conditions,” begins Apple. It then details many different forms of human vision from photopic to mesopic, where differing types or amounts of light rely on different “cone cells of the eye.”

Photopic vision is described as how the eye works during “high levels of ambient light… such as daylight.” Then Apple cautions that mesopic or other forms of vision, fare poorly in comparison.

“As compared to photopic vision, [these] may result in a loss of color vision, changing sensitivity to different wavelengths of light, reduced acuity, and more motion blur,” says Apple. “Thus, in poorly lit conditions, such as when relying on scotopic vision, a person is less able to view the environment than in well lit conditions.”

Apple’s proposed solution uses sensors in a HMD, such as “Apple Glass,” which register the surrounding environment. The results are then relayed back to the wearer in unspecified “graphical content.”

Key to registering the environment is the ability to sense distances between objects, the ability to detect depth. “The depth sensor detects the environment and, in particular, detects the depth (e.g., distance) therefrom to objects of the environment,” says Apple.

A Head Mounted Display could include radar and LiDAR sensors

A Head Mounted Display could include radar and LiDAR sensors

“The depth sensor generally includes an illuminator and a detector,” it continues. “The illuminator emits electromagnetic radiation (e.g., infrared light)… into the environment. The detector…