Magic Leap Patent | Multi-Focal Display System And Method

Patent: Multi-Focal Display System And Method

Publication Number: 10386636

Publication Date: 20190820

Applicants: Magic Leap

Abstract

Configurations are disclosed for presenting virtual reality and augmented reality experiences to users. The system may comprise an accommodation tracking module to track an accommodation of a user’s eyes, a first variable focus element (VFE) to switch between at least two focal planes, wherein a distance between the two focal planes is relatively consistent, and a second VFE to shift the at least two focal planes based at least in part on the tracked accommodation of the user’s eyes.

BACKGROUND

Modern computing and display technologies have facilitated the development of systems for so called “virtual reality” or “augmented reality” experiences, wherein digitally reproduced images or portions thereof are presented to a user in a manner wherein they seem to be, or may be perceived as, real. A virtual reality, or “VR”, scenario typically involves presentation of digital or virtual image information without transparency to other actual real-world visual input; an augmented reality, or “AR”, scenario typically involves presentation of digital or virtual image information as an augmentation to visualization of the actual world around the user.

There are numerous challenges when it comes to presenting 3D virtual content to a user of an AR system. A central premise of presenting 3D content to a user involves creating a perception of multiple depths. As in some virtual content appears closer to the user, while other virtual content may appear to be coming from farther away. Thus, to achieve 3D perception, the AR system is configured to deliver virtual content at different focal planes relative to the user.

The U.S. provisional patent applications listed above present systems and techniques to generate various focal planes in the context of AR systems. The design of these virtual reality and/or augmented reality systems presents numerous challenges, including the speed of the system in delivering virtual content, quality of virtual content, eye relief of the user, size and portability of the system, and other system and optical challenges.

The systems and techniques described herein are configured to work with the visual configuration of the typical human to address these challenges.

SUMMARY

Embodiments of the present invention are directed to devices, systems and methods for facilitating virtual reality and/or augmented reality interaction for one or more users. In one aspect, a system for displaying virtual content is disclosed.

In one or more embodiments, an augmented reality system comprises a light projection device operatively coupled to an image source for generating one or more frames of image data, and a composite variable focus element (VFE) system having a first VFE and a second VFE, the first VFE for producing at least two depth planes corresponding to the one or more frames of image data and the second VFE for variably shifting the at least two depth planes at varying distances from the user’s eyes.

In one or more embodiments, an augmented reality system comprises an accommodation tracking module to track an accommodation of a user’s eyes, a first variable focus element (VFE) to switch between at least two focal planes, and a second VFE to shift the at least two focal planes based at least in part on the tracked accommodation of the user’s eyes.

In another aspect, a method of displaying augmented reality comprises providing one or more frames of image data to be presented to a user, transmitting light associated with the one or more frames of image data, focusing a first frame of image data at a first focal plane, focusing a second frame of image data at a second focal plane, and variably shifting the first focal plane and the second focal plane across a range of distances.

Additional and other objects, features, and advantages of the invention are described in the detail description, figures and claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The drawings illustrate the design and utility of various embodiments of the present invention. It should be noted that the figures are not drawn to scale and that elements of similar structures or functions are represented by like reference numerals throughout the figures. In order to better appreciate how to obtain the above-recited and other advantages and objects of various embodiments of the invention, a more detailed description of the present inventions briefly described above will be rendered by reference to specific embodiments thereof, which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Understanding that these drawings depict only typical embodiments of the invention and are not therefore to be considered limiting of its scope, the invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates a plan view of a long range variable focus element (VFE) and a two state VFE with other optical elements, according to one example embodiment.

FIG. 2 illustrates a vari-state focus system and a hybrid focus system, according to one example embodiment.

FIG. 3 illustrates an example embodiment of varying focal planes using the hybrid focus system, according to one example embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Various embodiments of the invention are directed to methods, systems, and articles of manufacture for implementing multi-scenario physically-aware design of an electronic circuit design in a single embodiment or in some embodiments. Other objects, features, and advantages of the invention are described in the detailed description, figures, and claims.

Various embodiments will now be described in detail with reference to the drawings, which are provided as illustrative examples of the invention so as to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention. Notably, the figures and the examples below are not meant to limit the scope of the present invention. Where certain elements of the present invention may be partially or fully implemented using known components (or methods or processes), only those portions of such known components (or methods or processes) that are necessary for an understanding of the present invention will be described, and the detailed descriptions of other portions of such known components (or methods or processes) will be omitted so as not to obscure the invention. Further, various embodiments encompass present and future known equivalents to the components referred to herein by way of illustration.

As discussed in U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/909,774 (now U.S. patent application Ser. No. 14/555,585); U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,046,720; 7,555,333; 7,784,697; and U.S. patent applications Ser. Nos. 11/573,118 and 12/468,832, each of which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety, a variable focus element (hereinafter “VFE”) may be used to adjust the wavefront (e.g., focus) of an image in a dynamic fashion, and may be used to generate multi-focal 3D imagery. The VFE may enable analog focus modulation, or may switch between discrete focus states.

The subject of this disclosure is the use of a plurality of VFEs in concert to modulate the focus of images. The use of a plurality of VFEs can enable wavefront modulation characteristics that would be difficult to achieve with a single current state of the art VFE alone. For instance, it can be a challenge to produce a single VFE that simultaneously achieves a large effective aperture, large focus range, low power consumption, and high-speed focus modulation. The use of a plurality of VFEs can enable the advantages of each VFE to be combined, to create a composite VFE system that achieves those criteria.

By placing the VFEs substantially conjugate to an exit pupil in an optical system (such as viewing optics in a near-to-eye display) and/or substantially within a telecentric lens configuration, the VFEs can modulate the focus of an image while maintaining a stable image magnification.

FIG. 1 illustrates an example of a portion of one such embodiment, in which the VFEs are placed substantially within a telecentric lens configuration, such that modulation of the VFE generates a change in the focus of incident light, but generates little or no change in image magnification. In this embodiment, two VFEs are shown. The VFE 102 may, for instance, be capable of relative large focus range, such as 0-3 diopters. Such a VFE A 102, may, for the purposes of illustration, be limited in its temporal response time. If used in isolation, such a VFE A 102 may adjust the focus over the course of multiple displayed frames from a operatively coupled image source, but may not be fast enough to modulate between desired focal states on a frame-by-frame basis at the refresh rate of the operatively coupled display; for instance, it may adjust display focus in response to a change in human accommodation or vergence, or in response to the motion of elements within a displayed volumetric scene. The VFE labeled B (104) may comprise a VFE that can switch between focal states more rapidly that VFE A, but may be limited in its total focal range (e.g., 0 to 0.3 diopters) and/or the number of focus states in can produce (e.g., two focus states). By placing VFE A 102 and VFE B 104 in series, their total optical power is combined, such that the focus state of each VFE affects the focus of an operatively coupled display. The relationship may be characterized by an example equation below.

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The top portion 202 of FIG. 2, is an example “Vari-focus” system that illustrates a multi-focal display system comprising a single VFE. The optical viewing distance (i.e. the focus distance) or focal plane at which the viewer perceives the virtual image may be varied as shown in FIG. 2. If the single VFE is, for instance, capable of a large focus range but limited in response time, it may be able to modulate the focus of the image in response to a change in a viewer’s accommodation or fixation distance within a range 230, but may not be able to switch on a frame-by-frame basis. The bottom portion 204 of FIG. 2 is labeled “hybrid-focus system” and illustrates the viewing condition that can be produced by, for instance, the operation of VFE A and VFE B illustrated in FIG. 1 and described above. By rapidly switching VFE B between two focus states (two focal planes 210), and modulating the focus within the range 230, the persistence of human vision creates the impression in a viewer that he/she is seeing two image planes simultaneously.

By driving an operatively coupled display in synchrony with the VFE B, and displaying one layer of imagery in the even numbered frames and a second layer of imagery in the odd numbered frames, the viewer perceives a multi-focal display, with a relatively small separation between layers. VFE A may be used to shift the closely spaced layers within a larger focus range, over a longer time scale–for instance in response to a change in a viewer’s accommodation or fixation distance. By updating the displayed image content in response to a change in a viewer’s accommodation or fixation distance, e.g., by re-rendering simulated dioptric blur, the viewer can have the perception that he/she is viewing a multi-focal volumetric image that extends throughout the full focus range supported by the combined optical power of VFEs A and B. The two multiplexed focus states generated by the rapid modulation of VFE B allows the viewer’s accommodation to vary within a small range before it is necessary to adjust VFE A, and providing more tolerance to accuracy errors and latency in an operatively coupled accommodation-tracking or eye-tracking system that is used to measure the accommodation or fixation distance of the viewer’s eye.

FIG. 3 illustrates details of a more specific embodiment, in which VFEs A and B are operatively coupled with a high refresh rate display, such as a Digital Light Projection (DLP) display with a 240 Hz refresh rate. VFE B switches between two focus states (0 and 0.3 diopters) at 240 Hz, and in phase with the DLP refresh, such that all of the even DLP frames are displayed at one optical viewing distance while all of the odd frames are displayed at a different optical viewing distance. By driving the even frames with different image content than the content displayed during the odd frames, one layer of content is positioned at one viewing distance and the other layer of content is positioned at a second viewing distance, and the viewer perceives the two layers to be parts of the same multifocal scene that has an overall effective refresh rate of 120 Hz (240 Hz DLP refresh rate divided by 2 VFE focus states). For instance, the even DLP frames may display an image of a sharply rendered coffee cup, and the odd DLP frames may display an image of a sharply rendered wine glass.

The viewer 220 will perceive a coherent scene containing a coffee cup with a wine glass a small distance behind it. When the viewer looks at the coffee cup, the wine glass will appear slightly blurred, and when he/she shifts eye fixation and accommodation to the wine glass, it will come into sharp focus while the coffee becomes slightly blurred. The top 302 of FIG. 3 shows the two display layers 210 positioned at -3 and -2.7 diopters viewing distance. In our example, the coffee cup would be optically positioned at -3 diopters (i.e., 0.333 meter distance) and the wine glass would be positioned at -2.7 diopters (i.e., 0.370 meter distance). The even and odd DLP frames may each additionally include a somewhat blurred rendering of a flower vase, such that when the viewer gazes at either the coffee cup or the wine glass, he/she will perceive a flower vase in the background of the 3D scene (e.g., at 0.500 meters apparent distance), with the amount of blur that would be expected if it were a real object that were not focused upon at the moment.

If the viewer 220 shifts gaze to the flower vase, an operatively coupled accommodation- and/or eye-tracking system detects the change in focus and triggers a re-rendering of the imagery displayed in the DLP frames, such that the flower vase is rendered in sharp focus, while the coffee cup and wine glass are rendered with some blur. The tracking system also triggers VFE A to shift the two closely spaced focus layers 210 produced by VFE B to the area where the flower vase should reside. The bottom 304 of FIG. 3 illustrates that VFE A has shifted focus state such that the two focus planes produced by VFE B are now at -2 and -1.7 diopters (0.500 meters and 0.588 meters). Now the viewer will have the perception that he/she is looking at the flower vase, it is in sharp focus, and the coffee cup and wine glass are each somewhat blurred.

Though the illustrated examples primarily address a 2 VFE system, any number of VFEs may be used. For instance, a 3 VFE system may be used to achieve a longer total focus range or a larger number of discrete focus states. Also, though the FIG. 1 shows the VFEs in close proximity, they may alternatively be distributed across an optical system. For instance, VFEs may be placed at optically conjugate locations, such that the focus state of each VFE may be modulated without changing the image magnification of an operatively coupled display.

Various exemplary embodiments of the invention are described herein. Reference is made to these examples in a non-limiting sense. They are provided to illustrate more broadly applicable aspects of the invention. Various changes may be made to the invention described and equivalents may be substituted without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation, material, composition of matter, process, process act(s) or step(s) to the objective(s), spirit or scope of the present invention. Further, as will be appreciated by those with skill in the art that each of the individual variations described and illustrated herein has discrete components and features which may be readily separated from or combined with the features of any of the other several embodiments without departing from the scope or spirit of the present inventions. All such modifications are intended to be within the scope of claims associated with this disclosure.

The invention includes methods that may be performed using the subject devices. The methods may comprise the act of providing such a suitable device. Such provision may be performed by the end user. In other words, the “providing” act merely requires the end user obtain, access, approach, position, set-up, activate, power-up or otherwise act to provide the requisite device in the subject method. Methods recited herein may be carried out in any order of the recited events which is logically possible, as well as in the recited order of events.

Exemplary aspects of the invention, together with details regarding material selection and manufacture have been set forth above. As for other details of the present invention, these may be appreciated in connection with the above-referenced patents and publications as well as generally known or appreciated by those with skill in the art. The same may hold true with respect to method-based aspects of the invention in terms of additional acts as commonly or logically employed.

In addition, though the invention has been described in reference to several examples optionally incorporating various features, the invention is not to be limited to that which is described or indicated as contemplated with respect to each variation of the invention. Various changes may be made to the invention described and equivalents (whether recited herein or not included for the sake of some brevity) may be substituted without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention. In addition, where a range of values is provided, it is understood that every intervening value, between the upper and lower limit of that range and any other stated or intervening value in that stated range, is encompassed within the invention.

Also, it is contemplated that any optional feature of the inventive variations described may be set forth and claimed independently, or in combination with any one or more of the features described herein. Reference to a singular item, includes the possibility that there are plural of the same items present. More specifically, as used herein and in claims associated hereto, the singular forms “a,” “an,” “said,” and “the” include plural referents unless the specifically stated otherwise. In other words, use of the articles allow for “at least one” of the subject item in the description above as well as claims associated with this disclosure. It is further noted that such claims may be drafted to exclude any optional element. As such, this statement is intended to serve as antecedent basis for use of such exclusive terminology as “solely,” “only” and the like in connection with the recitation of claim elements, or use of a “negative” limitation.

Without the use of such exclusive terminology, the term “comprising” in claims associated with this disclosure shall allow for the inclusion of any additional element–irrespective of whether a given number of elements are enumerated in such claims, or the addition of a feature could be regarded as transforming the nature of an element set forth in such claims. Except as specifically defined herein, all technical and scientific terms used herein are to be given as broad a commonly understood meaning as possible while maintaining claim validity.

The breadth of the present invention is not to be limited to the examples provided and/or the subject specification, but rather only by the scope of claim language associated with this disclosure.

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