Facebook Patent | Camera Assembly With Programmable Diffractive Optical Element For Depth Sensing

Patent: Camera Assembly With Programmable Diffractive Optical Element For Depth Sensing

Publication Number: 10551614

Publication Date: 20200204

Applicants: Facebook

Abstract

A depth camera assembly (DCA) for depth sensing of a local area includes a structured light generator, an imaging device, and a controller. The structured light generator illuminates the local area with a structured light pattern. The structured light generator includes a programmable diffractive optical element (PDOE) that generates diffracted scanning beams using optical beams. The PDOE functions as a dynamic diffraction grating that dynamically adjusts diffraction of the optical beams to generate the diffracted scanning beams of different patterns. The diffracted scanning beams are projected as the structured light pattern into the local area, wherein the structured light pattern is dynamically adjustable based on the PDOE. The imaging device captures image(s) of at least a portion of the structured light pattern reflected from object(s) in the local area. The controller determines depth information for the object(s) based on the captured image(s).

BACKGROUND

The present disclosure generally relates to depth sensing, and specifically relates to a camera assembly with a programmable diffractive optical element (PDOE) for three-dimensional depth sensing.

To achieve a compelling user experience for depth sensing when using head-mounted displays (HMDs), it is important to create a scanning device that provides illumination pattern that is dynamically adjustable in real time. Most depth sensing methods rely on active illumination and detection. The conventional methods for depth sensing involve mechanical scanning or fixed diffractive-optics pattern projection, using structured light or time-of-flight techniques. Depth sensing based on time-of-flight uses a mechanical based mirror device (scanner) to send short pulses into an object space. The depth sensing based on time-of-flight further uses a high speed detector to time-gate back-scattered light from the object to create high resolution depth maps. However, the mechanical based scanner performs inadequately in scanning speed, real-time reconfiguration and mechanical stability. Depth sensing based on a fixed structured light uses a diffractive optical element to generate a structured light of a static (fixed) pattern projected into an object space. The depth sensing based on the fixed structured light further uses a pre-stored look-up table to compute and extract depth maps. However, the depth sensing based on the fixed structured light and the diffractive optical element is not robust enough for dynamic depth sensing where adjustment in illumination pattern is required.

SUMMARY

A depth camera assembly (DCA) determines depth information associated with one or more objects in a local area. The DCA comprises a structured light generator, an imaging device and a controller. The structured light generator is configured to illuminate the local area with a structured light pattern (e.g., dot pattern, line pattern, etc.) in accordance with emission instructions. The structured light generator includes an illumination source, a programmable diffractive optical element (PDOE), and a projection assembly. The illumination source is configured to emit optical beams. The PDOE generates, based in part on the emission instructions, diffracted scanning beams from the optical beams. The PDOE functions as a dynamic diffraction grating that dynamically adjusts diffraction of the optical beams to generate the diffracted scanning beams of different patterns. The projection assembly is configured to project the diffracted scanning beams as the structured light pattern into the local area, the structured light pattern being dynamically adjustable based on the PDOE. The imaging device is configured to capture one or more images of at least a portion of the structured light pattern reflected from the one or more objects in the local area. The controller may be coupled to both the structured light generator and the imaging device. The controller generates the emission instructions and provides the emission instructions to the structured light generator. The controller is also configured to determine depth information for the one or more objects based in part on the captured one or more images.

A head-mounted display (HMD) can further integrate the DCA. The HMD further includes an electronic display and an optical assembly. The HMD may be, e.g., a virtual reality (VR) system, an augmented reality (AR) system, a mixed reality (MR) system, or some combination thereof. The electronic display is configured to emit image light. The optical assembly is configured to direct the image light to an exit pupil of the HMD corresponding to a location of a user’s eye, the image light comprising the depth information of the one or more objects in the local area determined by the DCA.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a diagram of a head-mounted display (HMD), in accordance with an embodiment.

FIG. 2 is a cross section of a front rigid body of the HMD in FIG. 1, in accordance with an embodiment.

FIG. 3A is an example depth camera assembly (DCA) comprising a programmable diffractive optical element (PDOE), in accordance with an embodiment.

FIG. 3B is an example DCA comprising a reflective PDOE, in accordance with an embodiment.

FIG. 3C is an example DCA comprising an acousto-optic modulator (AOM) and a PDOE, in accordance with an embodiment.

FIG. 4 is a flow chart illustrating a process of determining depth information of objects in a local area, in accordance with an embodiment.

FIG. 5 is a block diagram of a HMD system in which a console operates, in accordance with an embodiment.

The figures depict embodiments of the present disclosure for purposes of illustration only. One skilled in the art will readily recognize from the following description that alternative embodiments of the structures and methods illustrated herein may be employed without departing from the principles, or benefits touted, of the disclosure described herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A depth camera assembly (DCA) for determining depth information of objects in a local area surrounding some or all of the DCA. The DCA includes an illumination source, a camera, and a controller. The illumination source includes a light source, a programmable diffractive optical element (PDOE) and a projection assembly. The PDOE may be, e.g., a spatial light modulator, liquid crystal on Silicon (LCOS), a microelectromechanical (MEM) device, some other device that can produce different patterns of light, or some combination thereof. In some embodiments, the illumination source includes a light source, a collimator and a prism that directs collimated light to the PDOE. In other embodiments, the illumination source includes a light source and a lens with a single hybrid optical element that acts to collimate and direct the collimated beam toward the PDOE. The projection assembly positioned in front of the PDOE projects light generated by the PDOE into the local area, wherein a pattern of the projected light is dynamically adjustable based on the PDOE. The controller determines the depth information based in part on captured one or more images of at least a portion of the adjustable light pattern reflected from the objects in the local area.

In some embodiments, the DCA is integrated into a head-mounted display (HMD) that captures data describing depth information in a local area surrounding some or all of the HMD. The HMD may be part of, e.g., a virtual reality (VR) system, an augmented reality (AR) system, a mixed reality (MR) system, or some combination thereof. The HMD further includes an electronic display and an optical assembly. The electronic display is configured to emit image light. The optical assembly is configured to direct the image light to an exit pupil of the HMD corresponding to a location of a user’s eye, the image light comprising the depth information of the objects in the local area determined by the DCA.

FIG. 1 is a diagram of a HMD 100, in accordance with an embodiment. The HMD 100 may be part of, e.g., a VR system, an AR system, a MR system, or some combination thereof. In embodiments that describe AR system and/or a MR system, portions of a front side 102 of the HMD 100 are at least partially transparent in the visible band (.about.380 nm to 750 nm), and portions of the HMD 100 that are between the front side 102 of the HMD 100 and an eye of the user are at least partially transparent (e.g., a partially transparent electronic display). The HMD 100 includes a front rigid body 105, a band 110, and a reference point 115. The HMD 100 also includes a DCA configured to determine depth information of a local area surrounding some or all of the HMD 100. The HMD 100 also includes an imaging aperture 120 and an illumination aperture 125, and an illumination source of the DCA emits light (e.g., a structured light pattern) through the illumination aperture 125. An imaging device of the DCA captures light from the illumination source that is reflected from the local area through the imaging aperture 120. Light emitted from the illumination source of the DCA through the illumination aperture 125 comprises a structured light pattern, as discussed in more detail in conjunction with FIGS. 2-4. Light reflected from the local area through the imaging aperture 120 and captured by the imaging device of the DCA comprises at least a portion of the reflected structured light pattern, as also discussed in more detail in conjunction with FIGS. 2-4.

The front rigid body 105 includes one or more electronic display elements (not shown in FIG. 1), one or more integrated eye tracking systems (not shown in FIG. 1), an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) 130, one or more position sensors 135, and the reference point 115. In the embodiment shown by FIG. 1, the position sensors 135 are located within the IMU 130, and neither the IMU 130 nor the position sensors 135 are visible to a user of the HMD 100. The IMU 130 is an electronic device that generates fast calibration data based on measurement signals received from one or more of the position sensors 135. A position sensor 135 generates one or more measurement signals in response to motion of the HMD 100. Examples of position sensors 135 include: one or more accelerometers, one or more gyroscopes, one or more magnetometers, another suitable type of sensor that detects motion, a type of sensor used for error correction of the IMU 130, or some combination thereof. The position sensors 135 may be located external to the IMU 130, internal to the IMU 130, or some combination thereof.

FIG. 2 is a cross section 200 of the front rigid body 105 of the HMD 100 shown in FIG. 1. As shown in FIG. 2, the front rigid body 105 includes an electronic display 210 and an optical assembly 220 that together provide image light to an exit pupil 225. The exit pupil 225 is a region in space that would be occupied by a user’s eye 230. In some cases, the exit pupil 225 may also be referred to as an eye-box. For purposes of illustration, FIG. 2 shows a cross section 200 associated with a single eye 230, but another optical assembly 220, separate from the optical assembly 220, provides altered image light to another eye of the user.

The electronic display 210 generates image light. In some embodiments, the electronic display 210 includes an optical element that adjusts the focus of the generated image light. The electronic display 210 displays images to the user in accordance with data received from a console (not shown in FIG. 2). In various embodiments, the electronic display 210 may comprise a single electronic display or multiple electronic displays (e.g., a display for each eye of a user). Examples of the electronic display 210 include: a liquid crystal display (LCD), an organic light emitting diode (OLED) display, an inorganic light emitting diode (ILED) display, an active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) display, a transparent organic light emitting diode (TOLED) display, some other display, a projector, or some combination thereof. The electronic display 210 may also include an aperture, a Fresnel lens, a convex lens, a concave lens, a diffractive element, a waveguide, a filter, a polarizer, a diffuser, a fiber taper, a reflective surface, a polarizing reflective surface, or any other suitable optical element that affects the image light emitted from the electronic display. In some embodiments, one or more of the display block optical elements may have one or more coatings, such as anti-reflective coatings.

The optical assembly 220 magnifies received light from the electronic display 210, corrects optical aberrations associated with the image light, and the corrected image light is presented to a user of the HMD 100. At least one optical element of the optical assembly 220 may be an aperture, a Fresnel lens, a refractive lens, a reflective surface, a diffractive element, a waveguide, a filter, or any other suitable optical element that affects the image light emitted from the electronic display 210. Moreover, the optical assembly 220 may include combinations of different optical elements. In some embodiments, one or more of the optical elements in the optical assembly 220 may have one or more coatings, such as anti-reflective coatings, dichroic coatings, etc. Magnification of the image light by the optical assembly 220 allows elements of the electronic display 210 to be physically smaller, weigh less, and consume less power than larger displays. Additionally, magnification may increase a field-of-view of the displayed media. For example, the field-of-view of the displayed media is such that the displayed media is presented using almost all (e.g., 110 degrees diagonal), and in some cases all, of the user’s field-of-view. In some embodiments, the optical assembly 220 is designed so its effective focal length is larger than the spacing to the electronic display 210, which magnifies the image light projected by the electronic display 210. Additionally, in some embodiments, the amount of magnification may be adjusted by adding or removing optical elements.

As shown in FIG. 2, the front rigid body 105 further includes a DCA 240 for determining depth information of one or more objects in a local area 245 surrounding some or all of the HMD 100. The DCA 240 includes a structured light generator 250, an imaging device 255, and a controller 260 that may be coupled to both the structured light generator 250 and the imaging device 255. The structured light generator 250 emits light through the illumination aperture 125. In accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure, the structured light generator 250 is configured to illuminate the local area 245 with structured light 265 in accordance with emission instructions generated by the controller 260. The controller 260 is configured to control operation of certain components of the structured light generator 250, based on the emission instructions. The controller 260 provides the emission instructions to one or more diffractive optical elements of the structured light generator 250 to dynamically adjust a pattern of the structured light 265 that illuminates the local area 245. More details about controlling the one or more diffractive optical elements of the structured light generator 250 and dynamically adjusting the pattern of the structured light 265 are disclosed in conjunction with FIGS. 3A-3C and FIG. 4.

The structured light generator 250 may include a plurality of emitters that each emits light having certain characteristics (e.g., wavelength, polarization, coherence, temporal behavior, etc.). The characteristics may be the same or different between emitters, and the emitters can be operated simultaneously or individually. In one embodiment, the plurality of emitters could be, e.g., laser diodes (e.g., edge emitters), inorganic or organic LEDs, a vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL), or some other source. In some embodiments, a single emitter or a plurality of emitters in the structured light generator 250 can emit one or more light beams. More details about the DCA 240 that includes the structured light generator 250 are disclosed in conjunction with FIG. 3A.

The imaging device 255 includes one or more cameras configured to capture, through the imaging aperture 120, at least a portion of the structured light 265 reflected from the local area 245. The imaging device 255 captures one or more images of one or more objects in the local area 245 illuminated with the structured light 265. The controller 260 coupled to the imaging device 255 is also configured to determine depth information for the one or more objects based on the captured portion of the reflected structured light. In some embodiments, the controller 260 provides the determined depth information to a console (not shown in FIG. 2) and/or an appropriate module of the HMD 100 (e.g., a varifocal module, not shown in FIG. 2). The console and/or the HMD 100 may utilize the depth information to, e.g., generate content for presentation on the electronic display 210.

In some embodiments, the front rigid body 105 further comprises an eye tracking system (not shown in FIG. 2) that determines eye tracking information for the user’s eye 230. The determined eye tracking information may comprise information about an orientation of the user’s eye 230 in an eye-box, i.e., information about an angle of an eye-gaze. An eye-box represents a three-dimensional volume at an output of a HMD in which the user’s eye is located to receive image light. In one embodiment, the user’s eye 230 is illuminated with structured light. Then, the eye tracking system can use locations of the reflected structured light in a captured image to determine eye position and eye-gaze. In another embodiment, the eye tracking system determines eye position and eye-gaze based on magnitudes of image light captured over a plurality of time instants.

In some embodiments, the front rigid body 105 further comprises a varifocal module (not shown in FIG. 2). The varifocal module may adjust focus of one or more images displayed on the electronic display 210, based on the eye tracking information. In one embodiment, the varifocal module adjusts focus of the displayed images and mitigates vergence-accommodation conflict by adjusting a focal distance of the optical assembly 220 based on the determined eye tracking information. In another embodiment, the varifocal module adjusts focus of the displayed images by performing foveated rendering of the one or more images based on the determined eye tracking information. In yet another embodiment, the varifocal module utilizes the depth information from the controller 260 to generate content for presentation on the electronic display 210.

FIG. 3A is an example DCA 300, in accordance with an embodiment. The DCA 300 is configured for depth sensing over a large field-of-view using structured light of a dynamically adjustable pattern. The DCA 300 includes a structured light generator 305, an imaging device 310, and a controller 315 coupled to both the structured light generator 305 and the imaging device 310. The DCA 300 may be configured to be a component of the HMD 100 in FIG. 1. Thus, the DCA 300 may be an embodiment of the DCA 240 in FIG. 2; the structured light generator 305 may be an embodiment of the structured light generator 250 in FIG. 2; and the imaging device 310 may be an embodiment of the imaging device 255 in FIG. 2.

The structured light generator 305 is configured to illuminate and scan a local area 320 with structured light in accordance with emission instructions from the controller 315. The structured light generator 305 includes an illumination source 325, a PDOE 330, and a projection assembly 335. The illumination source 325 generates and directs light toward the PDOE 330. The illumination source 325 includes a light emitter 340 and a beam conditioning assembly 345.

The light emitter 340 is configured to emit optical beams 350, based in part on the emission instructions from the controller 315. In some embodiments, the light emitter 340 includes an array of laser diodes that emit the optical beams 350 in an infrared spectrum. In other embodiments, the light emitter 340 includes an array of laser diodes that emit the optical beams 350 in a visible spectrum. In some embodiments, the light emitter emits the optical beams 350 as structured light of a defined pattern (e.g., dot pattern, or line pattern). Alternatively or additionally, the light emitter 340 emits the optical beams as temporally modulated light based in part on the emission instructions from the controller 315 to generate temporally modulated illumination of the local area 320 in addition to structured illumination.

The beam conditioning assembly 345 collects the optical beams 350 emitted from the illumination emitter 340 and directs the optical beams 350 toward a portion of the PDOE 330. The beam conditioning assembly 345 is composed of one or more optical elements (lenses). In some embodiments, the beam conditioning assembly 345 includes a collimation assembly and a prism (not shown in FIG. 3A). The collimation assembly includes one or more optical elements (lenses) that collimate the optical beams 350 into collimated light. The prism is an optical element that directs the collimated light into the PDOE 330. In alternate embodiments, the beam conditioning assembly 345 includes a single hybrid optical element (lens) that both collimates the optical beams 350 to generate collimated light and directs the collimated light into the PDOE 330.

The PDOE 330 generates diffracted scanning beams 355 from the optical beams 350, based in part on the emission instructions from the controller 315. The PDOE 330 functions as a dynamic diffraction grating that dynamically adjusts diffraction of the optical beams 350 to generate the diffracted scanning beams 355 of different patterns. By generating different patterns of the diffracted scanning beams 355, a structured light pattern 360 illuminating the local area 320 varies over time. Having ability to dynamically adjust a pattern of the diffracted scanning beams 355 and the structured light pattern 360 provides flexibility to scanning of different areas and various types of objects in the local area 320. The PDOE 330 may be selected from a group consisting of a liquid crystal on Silicon (LCOS) device, a spatial light modulator, a digital micro-mirror device, and a microelectromechanical (MEM) device.

In some embodiments, the PDOE 330 implemented as a LCOS device may include a liquid crystal (LC)-based diffractive optical element (not shown in FIG. 3A). A voltage level applied to the LC-based diffractive optical element may be dynamically adjusted (e.g., by the controller 315). By dynamically adjusting the voltage level, a diffraction angle of the LC-based diffractive optical element of the PDOE 330 varies in real time to form the diffracted scanning beams 355 at the output of the PDOE 330 having a pattern that varies over time.

In other embodiments, the PDOE 330 may include a spatial light modulator (not shown in FIG. 3A). The spatial light modulator spatially modulates the optical beams 350 to form the diffracted scanning beams 355 as modulated light, based on a modulation signal having a spatial frequency. The spatial frequency of the modulation signal may be dynamically adjustable (e.g., via the controller 315) to form the modulated light (i.e., the diffracted scanning beams 355 and the structured light 360) having a pattern that vary over time.

In yet other embodiments, the PDOE 330 implemented as a digital micro-mirror device (DMD) or a MEM device may include an array of micro-mirror cells. A first plurality of micro-mirror cells in the array can be dynamically reconfigured (e.g., via the controller 315) to absorb a portion of the optical beams 350 incident to the PDOE 330. In addition, a second plurality of micro-mirror cells in the array can be dynamically reconfigured (e.g., via the controller 315) to reflect (diffract) another portion of the optical beams 350 incident to the PDOE 330. By reconfiguring, over a plurality of time instants, different subsets of the micro-mirror cells in the PDOE 330 for absorption and reflection of incident light, the diffracted scanning beams 355 (and the structured light 360) can be generated having a pattern vary over the plurality of time instants.

In some embodiments, the PDOE 330 can be combined with another non-programmable DOE or other non-programmable optical element (not shown in FIG. 3A). The non-programmable DOE or optical element can be located, e.g., in front of the PDOE 330. In this case, the structured light pattern 360 is formed in a “tile+tiler” architecture, wherein the tiler or fan-out of the structured light pattern 360 is programmable. By combining the PDOE with the non-programmable DOE or optical element, a field-of-view of the local area 320 illuminated by the structured light pattern 360 is wider.

For a preferred diffraction efficiency, the PDOE 330 may be configured to diffract the optical beams 350 incident to at least a portion of the PDOE 330 at an angle that satisfies the Bragg matching condition to form the diffracted scanning beams 355 based in part on the emission instructions from the controller 315. In some embodiments, the PDOE 330 can be configured to generate the diffracted scanning beams 355 as polarized light (e.g., circularly polarized light) by orienting the optical beams 350 to, e.g., a liquid crystal in the PDOE 330 in a geometry satisfying the Bragg matching condition. Note that the diffracted scanning beams 355 can be either right handed circularly polarized or left handed circularly polarized based on the liquid crystal in the PDOE 330. In some embodiments, a state of polarization (SOP) of the optical beams 350 incident to the PDOE 330 matches an eigenstate of polarization at the Bragg angle for achieving maximum diffraction efficiency of the PDOE 330.

The projection assembly 335 is positioned in front of the PDOE 330. The projection assembly 335 includes one or more optical elements (lenses). The projection assembly 335 projects the diffracted scanning beams 355 as the structured light pattern 360 into the local area 320, e.g., over a wide field-of-view. The structured light pattern 360 is dynamically adjustable over time based on the PDOE 330. The structured light pattern 360 illuminates portions of the local area 320, including one or more objects in the local area 320. As the structured light pattern 360 is dynamically adjustable over time, different portions of the local area 320 may be illuminated in different time instants. A reflected structured light pattern 365 is generated based on reflection of the structured light pattern 360 from the one or more objects in the local area 320.

The imaging device 310 captures one or more images of the one or more objects in the local area 320 by capturing at least a portion of the reflected structured light pattern 365. In one embodiment, the imaging device 310 is an infrared camera configured to capture images in an infrared spectrum. In another embodiment, the imaging device 310 is configured to capture an image light of a visible spectrum. The imaging device 310 may include a charge-coupled device (CCD) detector, a complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) detector or some other types of detectors (not shown in FIG. 3A). The imaging device 310 may be configured to operate with a frame rate in the range of kHz to MHz for fast detection of objects in the local area 320. In some embodiments, the imaging device 310 includes a two-dimensional detector pixel array for capturing at least the portion of the reflected structured light pattern 365. In other embodiments, the imaging device 310 includes more than one camera for capturing at least the portion of the reflected structured light pattern 365.

In some embodiments, the imaging device 310 may include a polarizing element (not shown in FIG. 3A) placed in front of a camera for receiving and propagating the reflected structured light pattern 365 of a particular polarization. The polarizing element can be a linear polarizer, a circular polarizer, an elliptical polarizer, etc. The polarizing element can be implemented as a thin film polarizer (absorptive, reflective), a quarter wave plate combined with a linear polarizer, etc. The reflected structured light pattern 365 may be selected from a group consisting of linearly polarized light (vertical and horizontal), right handed circularly polarized light, left handed circularly polarized light, and elliptically polarized light. It should be noted that polarization of the reflected structured light pattern 365 can be different than polarization of the structured light pattern 360 that illuminates the local area 320.

The controller 315 controls operations of various components of the DCA 300 in FIG. 3A. In some embodiments, the controller 315 provides emission instructions to the light emitter 340 to control intensity of the emitted optical beams 350, (spatial) modulation of the optical beams 350, a time duration during which the light emitter 340 is activated, etc. The controller 315 may further create the emission instructions for controlling operations of the PDOE 330 to dynamically adjust a pattern of the diffracted scanning beams 355 and the structured light pattern 360 that illuminates the local area 320. In some embodiments, the controller 315 can control, based in part on the emission instructions, operations of the PDOE 330 such that intensity of the diffracted scanning beams 355 is programmable. In other embodiments, the controller 315 can control, based in part on the emission instructions, operations of the PDOE 330 such that a phase of the diffracted scanning beams 355 is programmable.

In some embodiments, the controller 315 controls a voltage level applied to the PDOE 330 having a LC-based diffractive optical element to dynamically vary a diffraction angle of the LC-based diffractive optical element to form the diffracted scanning beams 355 having a pattern that varies over time. In other embodiments, the controller 315 modifies over time a spatial frequency of a modulation signal applied to the optical beams 350 via the PDOE 330 including a spatial light modulator to dynamically adjust a pattern of the diffracted scanning beams 355 and the structured light pattern 360. In yet other embodiments, the controller 315 dynamically reconfigures subsets of micro-mirror cells in the PDOE 330. By reconfiguring, over a plurality of time instants, different subsets of the micro-mirror cells for absorption and reflection of incident light, the controller 315 dynamically adjusts a pattern of the diffracted scanning beams 355 and the structured light pattern 360.

As shown in FIG. 3A, the controller 315 is further coupled to the imaging device 310 and can be configured to determine depth information for the one or more objects in the local area 320. The controller 315 determines depth information for the one or more objects based in part on the one or more images captured by the imaging device 310. The controller 315 may be configured to determine the depth information based on phase-shifted patterns of light captured by the imaging device 310 distorted by shapes of the one or more objects in the local area 320, and to use triangulation calculation to obtain a depth map of the local area 320. Alternatively, the controller 315 may be configured to determine the depth information based on time-of-flight information and information about the reflected structured light pattern 365 distorted by shapes of the one or more objects. In some embodiments, the controller 315 can be configured to determine the depth information based on polarization information of the reflected structured light pattern 365 and/or polarization information of the structured light pattern 360.

In some embodiments, based on the determined depth information for the one or more objects in the local area 320, the controller 315 may control (e.g., based in part on the emission instructions) operation of the PDOE 330 as the dynamic diffraction grating to adjust diffraction of the optical beams 350. Thus, the controller 315 can instruct the PDOE 330 to dynamically adjust diffraction of the optical beams 350 based on a quality of the determined depth information, surface types of the one or more objects in the local area 320, etc. Additionally or alternatively, the controller 315 may control (e.g., based in part on the emission instructions) operation of the PDOE 330 as the dynamic diffraction grating to adjust diffraction of the optical beams 350, based on location information of the one or more objects in the local area 320. Thus, the controller 315 and the PDOE 330 dynamically adjusts the structured light pattern 360 based on a location of each object in the local area 320.

In some embodiments, the controller 315 may control operation of the PDOE 330 such that the structured light pattern 360 is pointed at a region or regions of interest of the local area 320. In other embodiments, the controller 315 may control operation of the PDOE 330 to adjust a density of the structured light pattern 360 depending a distance, e.g., along z dimension, to an object of interest in the local area 320. In yet other embodiments, the controller 315 may control operation of the PDOE 330 to decrease a density of the structured light pattern 360 to save power, e.g., dissipated by the imaging device 310 and the controller 315 for capturing a portion of the reflected structured light pattern 365 and depth determination. In yet other embodiments, the controller 315 may control operation of the PDOE 330 to increase a density of the structured light pattern 360 in order to increase a number of depth points in a depth map of the local area 320. In yet other embodiments, the controller 315 may control operation of the PDOE 330 to change the structured light pattern 360 to be more suitable for e.g., hand tracking versus room or object reconstruction.

FIG. 3B illustrates the structured light generator 305 of the DCA 300 that includes the illumination source 325 and the PDOE 330 implemented as a reflective spatial light modulator, in accordance with an embodiment. The illumination source 325 emits the optical beams 350 toward a portion of the reflective PDOE 330. In some embodiments, the illumination source 325 includes a collimation assembly (not shown in FIG. 3B) that directs the optical beams 350 as collimated light to the reflective PDOE 330. The reflective PDOE 330 shown in FIG. 3B reflects the optical beams 350 incident to the PDOE 330 to generate the structured light pattern 360. For the simplicity of illustration, the projection assembly 335 shown in FIG. 3A is omitted in FIG. 3B, although the structured light generator 305 shown in FIG. 3B may also include the projection assembly 335 that projects the structured light pattern 360 into the local area 320. The reflective PDOE 330 shown in FIG. 3B may be implemented as a LCOS device, a spatial light modulator, a digital micro-mirror device, or some other programmable reflective optical element. The controller 315 may create the emission instructions for controlling operations of the reflective PDOE 330 to dynamically adjust the structured light pattern 360.

FIG. 3C illustrates the structured light generator 305 of the DCA 300 comprising an acousto-optic modulator (AOM) 370 placed in front of the PDOE 330, in accordance with an embodiment. The illumination source 325 emits the optical beams 350 toward a portion of the AOM 370. The AOM 370 diffracts the optical beams 350 into one or more dimensions. The AOM 370 is composed of one or more acousto-optic devices that generate diffracted scanning beams 375 in one or two dimensions by diffracting the optical beams 350. The diffracted scanning beams 375 may include first order diffracted scanning beams. Alternatively, the diffracted scanning beams 375 may include diffracted scanning beams of an order higher than the first order.

In some embodiments, each acousto-optic device in the AOM 370 is configured to function as a dynamic diffraction grating that diffracts the optical beams 350 to form the diffracted scanning beams 375 based in part on emission instructions from the controller 315. Each acousto-optic device in the AOM 370 may include a transducer or an array of transducers and one or more diffraction areas (not shown in FIG. 3C). Responsive to at least one radio frequency in the emission instructions, the transducer or the array of transducers of the acousto-optic device in the AOM 370 may be configured to generate at least one sound wave in the one or more diffraction areas of the acousto-optic device to form the dynamic diffraction grating. The diffracted scanning beams 375 generated by the AOM 370 are incident to at least a portion of the PDOE 330 that further diffracts the diffracted scanning beams 375 to generate the diffracted scanning beams 355 of a wider field-of-view. The projection assembly 335 projects the diffracted scanning beams 355 as the structured light pattern 360 illuminating the local area 320.

FIG. 4 is a flow chart illustrating a process 400 of determining depth information of objects in a local area, in accordance with an embodiment. The process 400 of FIG. 4 may be performed by the components of a DCA (e.g., the DCA 300). Other entities (e.g., a HMD and/or console) may perform some or all of the steps of the process in other embodiments. Likewise, embodiments may include different and/or additional steps, or perform the steps in different orders.

The DCA generates 410 (e.g., via a controller) emission instructions. The DCA may provide the emission instructions to an illumination source and a PDOE within the DCA. Based on the emission instructions, the illumination source may emit optical beams. Based on the emission instructions, the emitted optical beams may have a specific intensity and/or modulation (spatial, temporal, etc.). In some embodiments, the DCA generates the emission instructions which include information about a level of voltage applied to a LC-based diffractive optical element of the PDOE. Responsive to the level of voltage in the emission instructions, the DCA adjusts a diffraction angle of the PDOE to dynamically adjust a pattern of light generated by the PDOE. In other embodiments, the DCA generates the emission instructions which include information about a spatial frequency of a modulation signal applied to the optical beams to dynamically adjust a pattern of light generated by a spatial light modulator of the PDOE.

The DCA generates 420 (e.g., via the PDOE) diffracted scanning beams using a PDOE and the emission instructions. The PDOE functions as a dynamic diffraction grating, in accordance with the emission instructions, that dynamically adjusts diffraction of optical beams to generate the diffracted scanning beams of different patterns. In some embodiments, the PDOE is selected from a group consisting of a spatial light modulator, a LCOS device, a MEM device, and a digital micro-mirror device (DMD). In some embodiments, the PDOE includes a LC-based diffractive optical element. A voltage level applied to the LC-based diffractive optical element can be varied (e.g., via a controller) to adjust a diffraction angle of the LC-based diffractive optical element to generate the diffracted scanning beams having the different patterns. In other embodiments, PDOE includes a spatial light modulator that spatially modulates, based on a modulation signal having a spatial frequency, the optical beams to generate the diffracted scanning beams as modulated light. The spatial frequency of the modulation signal applied to the optical beams can be dynamically adjusted (e.g., via the controller) to generate the modulated light having the different patterns. In yet other embodiments, the PDOE includes an array of micro-mirror cells. A first plurality of cells in the array can be dynamically reconfigured (e.g., via the controller) to absorb a portion of the optical beams, and a second plurality of cells in the array can be dynamically reconfigured (e.g., via the controller) to reflect another portion of the optical beams to generate the diffracted scanning beams having the different patterns.

The DCA projects 430 (e.g., via a projection assembly) the diffracted scanning beams as the structured light pattern into the local area. The structured light pattern that illuminates the local area is dynamically adjustable based on the PDOE. The structured light pattern may vary in real time in order to illuminate different portions of the local area during different time instants.

The DCA captures 440 (e.g., via an imaging device) one or more images of at least a portion of the structured light pattern reflected from one or more objects in the local area. In some embodiments, the imaging device includes a two-dimensional detector pixel array that captures the one or more images. In other embodiments, the imaging device includes more than one camera for capturing the one or more images. In some embodiments, the imaging device of includes a polarizing element and a camera, wherein the polarizing element is positioned in front of the camera. The polarizing element is configured to receive at least the portion of the reflected structured light pattern having a specific polarization and to propagate the received portion of reflected polarized light to the camera.

The DCA determines 450 (e.g., via the controller) depth information for the one or more objects based in part on the captured one or more images. In some embodiments, the DCA determines the depth information for the one or more objects based on information about the reflected structured light pattern distorted by shapes of the one or more objects. The DCA may also determine the depth information for the one or more objects based in part on polarization information of the captured portion of the reflected structured light pattern.

In some embodiments, the DCA is configured as part of a HMD, e.g., the HMD 100 in FIG. 1. In one embodiment, the DCA provides the determined depth information to a console coupled to the HMD. The console is then configured to generate content for presentation on an electronic display of the HMD, based on the depth information. In another embodiment, the DCA provides the determined depth information to a module of the HMD that generates content for presentation on the electronic display of the HMD, based on the depth information. In an alternate embodiment, the DCA is integrated into a HMD as part of an AR system. In this case, the DCA may be configured to sense and display objects behind a head of a user wearing the HMD or display objects recorded previously. In yet other embodiment, the DCA is integrated into a base station or a sensor bar external to the HMD. In this case, the DCA may be configured to sense various body parts of a user wearing the HMD, e.g., the user’s lower body.

* System Environment*

FIG. 5 is a block diagram of one embodiment of a HMD system 500 in which a console 510 operates. The HMD system 500 may operate in a VR system environment, an AR system environment, a MR system environment, or some combination thereof. The HMD system 500 shown by FIG. 5 comprises a HMD 505 and an input/output (I/O) interface 515 that is coupled to the console 510. While FIG. 5 shows an example HMD system 500 including one HMD 505 and on I/O interface 515, in other embodiments any number of these components may be included in the HMD system 500. For example, there may be multiple HMDs 505 each having an associated I/O interface 515, with each HMD 505 and I/O interface 515 communicating with the console 510. In alternative configurations, different and/or additional components may be included in the HMD system 500. Additionally, functionality described in conjunction with one or more of the components shown in FIG. 5 may be distributed among the components in a different manner than described in conjunction with FIG. 5 in some embodiments. For example, some or all of the functionality of the console 510 is provided by the HMD 505.

The HMD 505 is a head-mounted display that presents content to a user comprising virtual and/or augmented views of a physical, real-world environment with computer-generated elements (e.g., two-dimensional (2D) or three-dimensional (3D) images, 2D or 3D video, sound, etc.). In some embodiments, the presented content includes audio that is presented via an external device (e.g., speakers and/or headphones) that receives audio information from the HMD 505, the console 510, or both, and presents audio data based on the audio information. The HMD 505 may comprise one or more rigid bodies, which may be rigidly or non-rigidly coupled together. A rigid coupling between rigid bodies causes the coupled rigid bodies to act as a single rigid entity. In contrast, a non-rigid coupling between rigid bodies allows the rigid bodies to move relative to each other. An embodiment of the HMD 505 is the HMD 100 described above in conjunction with FIG. 1.

The HMD 505 includes a DCA 520, an electronic display 525, an optical assembly 530, one or more position sensors 535, an IMU 540, an optional eye tracking system 545, and an optional varifocal module 550. Some embodiments of the HMD 505 have different components than those described in conjunction with FIG. 5. Additionally, the functionality provided by various components described in conjunction with FIG. 5 may be differently distributed among the components of the HMD 505 in other embodiments.

The DCA 520 captures data describing depth information of a local area surrounding some or all of the HMD 505. The DCA 520 can compute the depth information using the data (e.g., based on a captured portion of a structured light pattern), or the DCA 520 can send this information to another device such as the console 510 that can determine the depth information using the data from the DCA 520.

The DCA 520 includes a structured light generator, an imaging device and a controller. The structured light generator of the DCA 520 is configured to illuminate the local area with a structured light pattern (e.g., dot pattern, line pattern, etc.) in accordance with emission instructions. The structured light generator of the DCA 520 includes an illumination source, a PDOE, and a projection assembly. The illumination source is configured to emit optical beams. The PDOE generates, based in part on the emission instructions, diffracted scanning beams from the optical beams. The PDOE functions as a dynamic diffraction grating that dynamically adjusts diffraction of the optical beams to generate the diffracted scanning beams of different patterns. The projection assembly is configured to project the diffracted scanning beams as the structured light pattern into the local area, the structured light pattern being dynamically adjustable based on the PDOE. The imaging device of the DCA 520 is configured to capture one or more images of at least a portion of the structured light pattern reflected from the one or more objects in the local area. The controller of the DCA 520 may be coupled to both the structured light generator and the imaging device. The controller of the DCA 520 generates the emission instructions and provides the emission instructions to the structured light generator. The controller of the DCA 520 is also configured to determine depth information for the one or more objects based in part on the captured one or more images. The DCA 520 is an embodiment of the DCA 240 in FIG. 2 or the DCA 300 in FIGS. 3A-3C.

The electronic display 525 displays two-dimensional or three-dimensional images to the user in accordance with data received from the console 510. In various embodiments, the electronic display 525 comprises a single electronic display or multiple electronic displays (e.g., a display for each eye of a user). Examples of the electronic display 525 include: a liquid crystal display (LCD), an organic light emitting diode (OLED) display, an inorganic light emitting diode (ILED) display, an active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) display, a transparent organic light emitting diode (TOLED) display, some other display, or some combination thereof. In some embodiments, the electronic display 525 may represent the electronic display 210 in FIG. 2.

The optical assembly 530 magnifies image light received from the electronic display 525, corrects optical errors associated with the image light, and presents the corrected image light to a user of the HMD 505. The optical assembly 530 includes a plurality of optical elements. Example optical elements included in the optical assembly 530 include: an aperture, a Fresnel lens, a convex lens, a concave lens, a filter, a reflecting surface, or any other suitable optical element that affects image light. Moreover, the optical assembly 530 may include combinations of different optical elements. In some embodiments, one or more of the optical elements in the optical assembly 530 may have one or more coatings, such as partially reflective or anti-reflective coatings.

Magnification and focusing of the image light by the optical assembly 530 allows the electronic display 525 to be physically smaller, weigh less and consume less power than larger displays. Additionally, magnification may increase the field-of-view of the content presented by the electronic display 525. For example, the field-of-view of the displayed content is such that the displayed content is presented using almost all (e.g., approximately 110 degrees diagonal), and in some cases all, of the user’s field-of-view. Additionally in some embodiments, the amount of magnification may be adjusted by adding or removing optical elements.

In some embodiments, the optical assembly 530 may be designed to correct one or more types of optical error. Examples of optical error include barrel or pincushion distortions, longitudinal chromatic aberrations, or transverse chromatic aberrations. Other types of optical errors may further include spherical aberrations, chromatic aberrations or errors due to the lens field curvature, astigmatisms, or any other type of optical error. In some embodiments, content provided to the electronic display 525 for display is pre-distorted, and the optical assembly 530 corrects the distortion when it receives image light from the electronic display 525 generated based on the content. In some embodiments, the optical assembly 530 may represent the optical assembly 220 in FIG. 2.

The IMU 540 is an electronic device that generates data indicating a position of the HMD 505 based on measurement signals received from one or more of the position sensors 535 and from depth information received from the DCA 520. A position sensor 535 generates one or more measurement signals in response to motion of the HMD 505. Examples of position sensors 535 include: one or more accelerometers, one or more gyroscopes, one or more magnetometers, another suitable type of sensor that detects motion, a type of sensor used for error correction of the IMU 540, or some combination thereof. The position sensors 535 may be located external to the IMU 540, internal to the IMU 540, or some combination thereof.

Based on the one or more measurement signals from one or more position sensors 535, the IMU 540 generates data indicating an estimated current position of the HMD 505 relative to an initial position of the HMD 505. For example, the position sensors 535 include multiple accelerometers to measure translational motion (forward/back, up/down, left/right) and multiple gyroscopes to measure rotational motion (e.g., pitch, yaw, roll). In some embodiments, the position sensors 535 may represent the position sensors 135 in FIG. 1. In some embodiments, the IMU 540 rapidly samples the measurement signals and calculates the estimated current position of the HMD 505 from the sampled data. For example, the IMU 540 integrates the measurement signals received from the accelerometers over time to estimate a velocity vector and integrates the velocity vector over time to determine an estimated current position of a reference point on the HMD 505. Alternatively, the IMU 540 provides the sampled measurement signals to the console 510, which interprets the data to reduce error. The reference point is a point that may be used to describe the position of the HMD 505. The reference point may generally be defined as a point in space or a position related to the HMD’s 505 orientation and position.

The IMU 540 receives one or more parameters from the console 510. The one or more parameters are used to maintain tracking of the HMD 505. Based on a received parameter, the IMU 540 may adjust one or more IMU parameters (e.g., sample rate). In some embodiments, certain parameters cause the IMU 540 to update an initial position of the reference point so it corresponds to a next position of the reference point. Updating the initial position of the reference point as the next calibrated position of the reference point helps reduce accumulated error associated with the current position estimated the IMU 540. The accumulated error, also referred to as drift error, causes the estimated position of the reference point to “drift” away from the actual position of the reference point over time. In some embodiments of the HMD 505, the IMU 540 may be a dedicated hardware component. In other embodiments, the IMU 540 may be a software component implemented in one or more processors. In some embodiments, the IMU 540 may represent the IMU 130 in FIG. 1.

In some embodiments, the eye tracking system 545 is integrated into the HMD 505. The eye tracking system 545 determines eye tracking information associated with an eye of a user wearing the HMD 505. The eye tracking information determined by the eye tracking system 545 may comprise information about an orientation of the user’s eye, i.e., information about an angle of an eye-gaze. In some embodiments, the eye tracking system 545 is integrated into the optical assembly 530. An embodiment of the eye-tracking system 545 may comprise an illumination source and an imaging device (camera).

In some embodiments, the varifocal module 550 is further integrated into the HMD 505. The varifocal module 550 may be coupled to the eye tracking system 545 to obtain eye tracking information determined by the eye tracking system 545. The varifocal module 550 may be configured to adjust focus of one or more images displayed on the electronic display 525, based on the determined eye tracking information obtained from the eye tracking system 545. In this way, the varifocal module 550 can mitigate vergence-accommodation conflict in relation to image light. The varifocal module 550 can be interfaced (e.g., either mechanically or electrically) with at least one of the electronic display 525 and at least one optical element of the optical assembly 530. Then, the varifocal module 550 may be configured to adjust focus of the one or more images displayed on the electronic display 525 by adjusting position of at least one of the electronic display 525 and the at least one optical element of the optical assembly 530, based on the determined eye tracking information obtained from the eye tracking system 545. By adjusting the position, the varifocal module 550 varies focus of image light output from the electronic display 525 towards the user’s eye. The varifocal module 550 may be also configured to adjust resolution of the images displayed on the electronic display 525 by performing foveated rendering of the displayed images, based at least in part on the determined eye tracking information obtained from the eye tracking system 545. In this case, the varifocal module 550 provides appropriate image signals to the electronic display 525. The varifocal module 550 provides image signals with a maximum pixel density for the electronic display 525 only in a foveal region of the user’s eye-gaze, while providing image signals with lower pixel densities in other regions of the electronic display 525. In one embodiment, the varifocal module 550 may utilize the depth information obtained by the DCA 520 to, e.g., generate content for presentation on the electronic display 525.

The I/O interface 515 is a device that allows a user to send action requests and receive responses from the console 510. An action request is a request to perform a particular action. For example, an action request may be an instruction to start or end capture of image or video data or an instruction to perform a particular action within an application. The I/O interface 515 may include one or more input devices. Example input devices include: a keyboard, a mouse, a game controller, or any other suitable device for receiving action requests and communicating the action requests to the console 510. An action request received by the I/O interface 515 is communicated to the console 510, which performs an action corresponding to the action request. In some embodiments, the I/O interface 515 includes an IMU 540 that captures calibration data indicating an estimated position of the I/O interface 515 relative to an initial position of the I/O interface 515. In some embodiments, the I/O interface 515 may provide haptic feedback to the user in accordance with instructions received from the console 510. For example, haptic feedback is provided when an action request is received, or the console 510 communicates instructions to the I/O interface 515 causing the I/O interface 515 to generate haptic feedback when the console 510 performs an action.

The console 510 provides content to the HMD 505 for processing in accordance with information received from one or more of: the DCA 520, the HMD 505, and the I/O interface 515. In the example shown in FIG. 5, the console 510 includes an application store 555, a tracking module 560, and an engine 565. Some embodiments of the console 510 have different modules or components than those described in conjunction with FIG. 5. Similarly, the functions further described below may be distributed among components of the console 510 in a different manner than described in conjunction with FIG. 5.

The application store 555 stores one or more applications for execution by the console 510. An application is a group of instructions, that when executed by a processor, generates content for presentation to the user. Content generated by an application may be in response to inputs received from the user via movement of the HMD 505 or the I/O interface 515. Examples of applications include: gaming applications, conferencing applications, video playback applications, or other suitable applications.

The tracking module 560 calibrates the HMD system 500 using one or more calibration parameters and may adjust one or more calibration parameters to reduce error in determination of the position of the HMD 505 or of the I/O interface 515. For example, the tracking module 560 communicates a calibration parameter to the DCA 520 to adjust the focus of the DCA 520 to more accurately determine positions of structured light elements captured by the DCA 520. Calibration performed by the tracking module 560 also accounts for information received from the IMU 540 in the HMD 505 and/or an IMU 540 included in the I/O interface 515. Additionally, if tracking of the HMD 505 is lost (e.g., the DCA 520 loses line of sight of at least a threshold number of structured light elements), the tracking module 560 may re-calibrate some or all of the HMD system 500.

The tracking module 560 tracks movements of the HMD 505 or of the I/O interface 515 using information from the DCA 520, the one or more position sensors 535, the IMU 540 or some combination thereof. For example, the tracking module 550 determines a position of a reference point of the HMD 505 in a mapping of a local area based on information from the HMD 505. The tracking module 560 may also determine positions of the reference point of the HMD 505 or a reference point of the I/O interface 515 using data indicating a position of the HMD 505 from the IMU 540 or using data indicating a position of the I/O interface 515 from an IMU 540 included in the I/O interface 515, respectively. Additionally, in some embodiments, the tracking module 560 may use portions of data indicating a position or the HMD 505 from the IMU 540 as well as representations of the local area from the DCA 520 to predict a future location of the HMD 505. The tracking module 560 provides the estimated or predicted future position of the HMD 505 or the I/O interface 515 to the engine 555.

The engine 565 generates a 3D mapping of the area surrounding some or all of the HMD 505 (i.e., the “local area”) based on information received from the HMD 505. In some embodiments, the engine 565 determines depth information for the 3D mapping of the local area based on information received from the DCA 520 that is relevant for techniques used in computing depth. The engine 565 may calculate depth information using one or more techniques in computing depth from structured light. In various embodiments, the engine 565 uses the depth information to, e.g., update a model of the local area, and generate content based in part on the updated model.

The engine 565 also executes applications within the HMD system 500 and receives position information, acceleration information, velocity information, predicted future positions, or some combination thereof, of the HMD 505 from the tracking module 560. Based on the received information, the engine 565 determines content to provide to the HMD 505 for presentation to the user. For example, if the received information indicates that the user has looked to the left, the engine 565 generates content for the HMD 505 that mirrors the user’s movement in a virtual environment or in an environment augmenting the local area with additional content. Additionally, the engine 565 performs an action within an application executing on the console 510 in response to an action request received from the I/O interface 515 and provides feedback to the user that the action was performed. The provided feedback may be visual or audible feedback via the HMD 505 or haptic feedback via the I/O interface 515.

In some embodiments, based on the eye tracking information (e.g., orientation of the user’s eye) received from the eye tracking system 545, the engine 565 determines resolution of the content provided to the HMD 505 for presentation to the user on the electronic display 525. The engine 565 provides the content to the HMD 605 having a maximum pixel resolution on the electronic display 525 in a foveal region of the user’s gaze, whereas the engine 565 provides a lower pixel resolution in other regions of the electronic display 525, thus achieving less power consumption at the HMD 505 and saving computing cycles of the console 510 without compromising a visual experience of the user. In some embodiments, the engine 565 can further use the eye tracking information to adjust where objects are displayed on the electronic display 525 to prevent vergence-accommodation conflict.

* Additional Configuration Information*

The foregoing description of the embodiments of the disclosure has been presented for the purpose of illustration; it is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the disclosure to the precise forms disclosed. Persons skilled in the relevant art can appreciate that many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above disclosure.

Some portions of this description describe the embodiments of the disclosure in terms of algorithms and symbolic representations of operations on information. These algorithmic descriptions and representations are commonly used by those skilled in the data processing arts to convey the substance of their work effectively to others skilled in the art. These operations, while described functionally, computationally, or logically, are understood to be implemented by computer programs or equivalent electrical circuits, microcode, or the like. Furthermore, it has also proven convenient at times, to refer to these arrangements of operations as modules, without loss of generality. The described operations and their associated modules may be embodied in software, firmware, hardware, or any combinations thereof.

Any of the steps, operations, or processes described herein may be performed or implemented with one or more hardware or software modules, alone or in combination with other devices. In one embodiment, a software module is implemented with a computer program product comprising a computer-readable medium containing computer program code, which can be executed by a computer processor for performing any or all of the steps, operations, or processes described.

Embodiments of the disclosure may also relate to an apparatus for performing the operations herein. This apparatus may be specially constructed for the required purposes, and/or it may comprise a general-purpose computing device selectively activated or reconfigured by a computer program stored in the computer. Such a computer program may be stored in a non-transitory, tangible computer readable storage medium, or any type of media suitable for storing electronic instructions, which may be coupled to a computer system bus. Furthermore, any computing systems referred to in the specification may include a single processor or may be architectures employing multiple processor designs for increased computing capability.

Embodiments of the disclosure may also relate to a product that is produced by a computing process described herein. Such a product may comprise information resulting from a computing process, where the information is stored on a non-transitory, tangible computer readable storage medium and may include any embodiment of a computer program product or other data combination described herein.

Finally, the language used in the specification has been principally selected for readability and instructional purposes, and it may not have been selected to delineate or circumscribe the inventive subject matter. It is therefore intended that the scope of the disclosure be limited not by this detailed description, but rather by any claims that issue on an application based hereon. Accordingly, the disclosure of the embodiments is intended to be illustrative, but not limiting, of the scope of the disclosure, which is set forth in the following claims.

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