Oculus Patent | Embedded eye tracker with dichroic mirror

Patent: Embedded eye tracker with dichroic mirror

Publication Number: 20190012540

Publication Date: 2019-01-10

Applicants: Oculus

Abstract

An eyewear device has an optical element, a source, a dichroic mirror, and a camera. The optical element has a front surface, a back surface, a rim, and an angled portion of the rim. The source emits light in a first band of light and is configured to illuminate a portion of an eye of a user of the eyewear device. The dichroic mirror is arranged proximate to the angled portion of the rim, is reflective in the first band of light, is transmissive in a second band of light, and is configured to direct light in the first band reflected from the portion of the eye toward a first position. The camera is located in the first position that is located in a plane of the optical element, and the camera is configured to capture images of the light in the first band reflected by the dichroic mirror.

Background

The present disclosure generally relates to an eye tracker, and specifically relates to an eye tracker that can be embedded in a frame of a compact augmented reality (AR) display.

Head mounted devices (HMD) for virtual reality (VR) systems typically have a mirror arranged in between a lens and a display. The mirror directs light reflected from the eye to a camera that is used for eye tracking. Because virtual reality systems have relatively large form factors, and have room between the lens and the display, the mirror can be positioned behind the lens.

Augmented reality systems typically rely on wearable devices that have much smaller form factors than classical VR head mounted devices. For example, augmented reality devices may be near-eye-displays that resemble eyeglasses. In such devices, a mirror cannot be conveniently placed behind a lens. Instead, augmented reality devices often include a camera that images the eye directly. However, to avoid disrupting the view of the user, the camera is typically placed far from the optical axis, e.g., in the frame of the device. This results in a very off-axis view, which hinders accurate tracking of the eye. Furthermore, the camera is exposed, and can easily become dirty, scratched, or damaged.

Summary

A near-eye-display typically includes a frame and an optical element, such as a waveguide display, a lens, or a combination of waveguide display(s) and/or lens(es). To fit an eye tracker into a compact augmented reality (AR) device, an angle can be cut into a portion of the optical element, and a dichroic mirror can be affixed to the angled portion of the optical element. The dichroic mirror reflects the non-visible light to a camera, which can be embedded in the frame of the device, in the same plane of the optical element. The dichroic mirror can reflect non-visible light that is used for eye tracking (e.g., infrared light), and transmit visible light, so that the dichroic mirror is not visible to a wearer. Because the dichroic mirror extends into the optical element, it provides the camera a view of the eye that is more on-axis than if the camera in the frame were to directly image the eye. The near-eye-display can also include one or more light sources to provide the non-visible light that is reflected by the eye, reflected by the dichroic mirror, and then captured by the camera.

More particularly, an eyewear device is described herein. The eyewear device includes an optical element, one or more sources, and a camera. The optical element has a front surface, a back surface, a rim, and an angled portion of the rim. In some embodiments, the optical element is or includes a waveguide display. The one or more sources emit light in a first band of light, and the one or more sources are configured to illuminate a portion of an eye of a user of the eyewear device. The dichroic mirror is arranged proximate to the angled portion of the rim, and the dichroic mirror is reflective in the first band of light, is transmissive in a second band of light, and is configured to direct light in the first band that is reflected from the portion of the eye toward a first position. The camera is located in the first position, and the first position is located in a plane of the optical element. The camera is configured to capture one or more images of the light in the first band reflected by the dichroic mirror. The eyewear device may also include a frame for housing the optical element, the source or sources, and the camera.

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