VR patents and AR patents: What’s new?
Technology, VR / AR8 August 2019
VR/AR technologies are changing our world constantly. In the nearest future, we can wait for a significant shift the way people work, experience entertainment, make purchases, and participate in social activities. This is proved by rising the number of VR patents and AR patents in recent times. Let’s take a look at what inspires developers and stakeholders in the 3D and 4D technology markets nowadays.
Patents in the VR/AR area
When a company or a person creates something new, an exclusive right can be granted to the inventor for a period of up to twenty years. This is what we call ”a patent”.
In general, there are three types of patents:
If we talk about VR/AR technologies they are qualified as utility patents. VR patents protect virtual reality, an artificial simulation of the real world that has been designed by computer programs. AR patents protect technological elements and pieces of data such as video, sound, and mapping technologies that enhance the real-world experience.
The number of VR/AR technology inventions have shown very impressive growth rates in the last 5 years. This conclusion can be easily based on the number of patents application stats.
The highest number of patents in 2018 were issued in the USA, followed by China and Europe.
As for the top 10 VR and AR technology patent owners, we can see five US-based companies as well as two Korean, two Japanese, one Chinese and one Dutch company.
OculusVR, Nokia, Motorola Mobility Inc, and Apple are also the active participants in the augmented reality and virtual reality market.
To summarize the stats, we can say that the variety, scope, and amount of these patent applications shows the transformations and vast nature of AR/VR technology itself.
The latest and most impressive VR/AR patents
The major trend for recent patents is the change from merely entertainment-based AR/VR usage towards more useful, inclusive, and practical applications.
VR/AR and medicine
First, we must mention the revolution in medical applications based on VR/AR patents. Among them, we can find VR surgical simulators, telepresence surgery, complex medical database visualization, and rehabilitation data. And that’s how the principle of usefulness is implemented in full.
Lyft app for drivers
As for the practical side of VR/AR technologies, Lyft got a patent for a technology that utilizes digital information to help Lyft drivers locate their next pick-up. It includes arrows for turn-by-turn navigation, 3D images to depict “drop-off/pick-up location” or “no drop-off/pick-up” zones, and customer feedback.
Sony VR headset to fit glasses
Regarding the inclusivity, on April 4, 2019, Sony received a new patent for people who wear glasses and want to use a VR headset. In general, when a person in glasses wants to wear a VR headset, it’s a must to take them off.
The new patent claims describe a pair of VR glasses that can take prescription lenses and fit inside a VR headset without issues. Moreover, the glasses use eye-tracking sensors, which are able to “gaze information of the user in order to improve the quality of content provided for rendering on the head-mounted display.”
Apple mixed reality headset
In March 2019, Apple received a patent for a complex mixed reality headset. It’s one of Apple mixed (or augmented) reality patents and it shows that Apple is broadly looking for ways of how AR might translate from phones to glasses. It said that the technology is based on a head-mounted display, a collection of cameras and other sensors that track the external environment, and a different set of sensors that track the wearer’s eyes.
It also tracks users’ facial features (“eyebrow sensors,” and “lower jaw sensors” that track the movement of the mouth and jaw), eyes, and hands. The components all work together to display a virtual 3D image that’s somehow based on the real world.
Facebook’s Reality Labs (CCM) has created a prototype device whose main purpose is to let people exploring virtual reality feel that they are touching things. The device’s name is “Tsabi”. It’s a haptic bangle which looks like a smartwatch and is worn around the wrist. It’s capable of generating squeezes and vibrations designed to let wearers “feel” what they are doing in cyberspace. Users will have to wear one Tsabi on each wrist. It will allow them to experience the devices’ movements whenever they pick up objects, push buttons, or touch surfaces.
Although Tsabi does not touch users’ fingers, the device tricks wearers into thinking that they experience sensations in their fingertips. Facebook is going to publish its research paper about the way the Tsabi works in the nearest future.
Until Tsabi prototype the only way to experience touch sensations in VR applications was the usage of a more cumbersome VR glove.
Drag:on VR controller for the sensation of weight in VR
German engineers from the Research Center for Artificial Intelligence created a controller which allows feeling the weight in virtual reality. It’s a unique controller that uses a dual folding fan-like system that opens and closes in different configurations to give you dynamic and passive haptic feedback.
The system is called “Drag:on” and it provides you with the haptic weight sensation. It uses different types of feedback based on your body movement, the digital object being interacted with, and how you handle that digital object.
Nowadays VR/AR technology is experiencing a prosper of its development. So, no doubts we can wait for more exciting inventions and patents in the nearest future. Stay tuned!l.sidorenko