The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a recent patent on Apple in recent weeks that generally applies to wireless communication systems and techniques for directing directional wave signals between components of a wireless communication system.
More specifically, Apple envisions the future of the workplace and other facilities (such as schools and elsewhere) by adopting the newly advanced wireless communication system that supports millimeter-wave signals that can deliver rich AR and VR content to future 1 Gbps headphones. More importantly, deliver such content to a workforce dedicated to using any type of head-mounted display device (HMD) – be it AR glasses or a full-featured virtual headset.
Although Apple does not give us specific marketing examples of what such a communication system will deliver, it is clear that professionals along with everyday workers and students will be able to communicate at a much higher level with Apple̵
For teachers, they will be able to draw and transfer 3D maps or images directly to the students who use HMD in class to make the subject more realistic and meaningful; to let the teacher manipulate a 3D object while explaining different properties of the object to the students and thereby deliver a whole new richer teacher-student experience.
A surgeon in a hospital could wait for the latest image of a brain scan of a patient who was in a bad car accident. Time is all about knowing whether the patient can survive surgery or not. Receive richly detailed images of the patient’s brain scan can be sent to the doctor’s headset where they can manipulate the image in real time and make a life-saving decision on the spot.
While some of this is done today using iPads, a future headset on a next-generation communication system could offer surgeons much greater detail about scans at much faster speeds.
Apple’s recently awarded patent, presented below, gives you a detailed look at their new communications system designed for next-generation communications, where AV and AR content will be commonplace in the not-too-distant future. Although it is realistic, we are talking years here, not months.
AR / VR applications
Apple’s patent filing explains that in virtual or augmented reality applications, a user unit can wirelessly communicate significant amounts of data to a base station using a millimeter wave.
Actual millimeter waves with wavelengths between 1 millimeter and 10 millimeters (eg 30-300 GHz waves) can communicate data at speeds of more than 1 gigabyte per second.
However, when the user moves within a room, such as a room, objects may block a current path between the user unit and the base station. In such situations, the user unit or base station may perform a scan or sweep to identify a new connection path (if available) or may lose communication between the user unit and the base station.
Still, even if a new link path is available, communication between the user unit and the base station may stop while a scan or sweep is performed to identify the new link path. This may cause a virtual reality or augmented reality scene to appear on the user device, or otherwise not respond.
Such disruptions can result in a negative user experience. In other applications, such as streaming video or audio, such interruptions can lead to a negative user experience.
Collect position data
In some embodiments, position information about a user device may be received from one or more position sensors already included in the user device.
For example, many user devices may include GPS systems and / or inertial measuring devices, such as gyroscopes and / or accelerometers, that collect position information about a current location or direction of the user device.
In some embodiments, such position information may be used by applications such as a virtual reality application that adjusts a display scene based on a position or direction of the user device.
In some embodiments, such position information collected by position sensors of a user device may also be applied to a beamforming decision motor to determine a switching path between a base station or relay dock and the user device.
Beam Forming Decision Engine + a relay dock or base station
In some embodiments, a communication station, such as a relay dock or base station, can further use position information about a user unit to transfer communication with the user unit between a base station and a relay dock or between the relay docks.
For example, in some embodiments, a beam-forming decision engine can determine a direction of travel of a user unit or a predicted change of direction of a user unit and can predict a future location or future orientation of the user unit based on the particular direction of travel or the expected change of orientation.
In some embodiments, a beamforming decision motor may also identify a relay dock or base station having a switching path to the predicted future location or future orientation of the user unit that is not obstructed.
For example, a beamforming decision engine may determine a next communication link device (e.g., base station or relay dock) and a next communication link path from the next communication link unit before it loses a current communication link or before the current communication link degrades more than a threshold amount.
In such embodiments, the beamforming decision motor may switch communication between the user device and a base station from a current link path to a new link path using a next relay dock or next base station.
In some embodiments, such communication link changes may be performed without performing a sweep or scan operation to identify the next relay dock or the next base station.
In some embodiments, a beamforming decision motor may also predict a future location of the user unit relative to the next relay dock or base station, allowing scanning or sweeping to identify a beam direction for a directional wave signal to be transmitted. from the next relay dock or base station to the user unit may be omitted or an amount of sweeping or scanning may be reduced.
For example, a beamforming decision engine may use position information to determine how to form a beam directed at a predicted position or orientation of a user unit without having to sweep or scan for a link path to the user unit at the predicted position or. In this way, the downtime when changing link paths can be reduced or eliminated, which can improve application performance and user experience.
In Apple’s patent, FIG. 1A below we can see an illustration of a wireless communication system consisting of a base station, a relay dock and user units; FIG. 1B is a block diagram illustrating the components of a relay dock.
Apple’s patent FIG. 3A below is a block diagram illustrating components of a communication station, such as a base station or a relay dock; FIG. 3B illustrates a wireless communication system which includes relay dock with cameras or infrared sensors.
Apple’s patent FIG. 5A below is a block diagram illustrating components of a user device; FIG. 5B is a more detailed view of position / motion sensors of a user unit.
Apple’s patent FIG. 8-10 illustrates alternative layouts or configurations depending on the room and whether there are obstacles. More specifically, FIG. 8 below illustrates a wireless communication system comprising multiple base stations and multiple cameras or infrared sensors; FIG. 9 illustrates a wireless communication system comprehensive wall-mounted relay dock; FIG. 10 illustrates a wireless communication system comprising floor-mounted relay dock.
Apple’s patent FIG. 4A-4C below illustrate a user unit that emits light signal and relay dock that includes cameras or infrared sensors.
Finally, Apple further noted that relay docks in some embodiments may be mounted in a combination of locations. For example, in a very large room or place such as an auditorium, relay dock can be mounted on side walls, a ceiling in the auditorium and on the floor in the auditorium. In some embodiments, various other combinations of mounting locations may be used for relay docks and / or base stations.
The best way to showcase its larger communication system for auditoriums would be for Apple to demonstrate it live with attendees at an Apple event at the Steve Jobs Theater with attendees wearing the next generation Head Mounted Display Device in action. Only time will tell if we will see such a demonstration in the future.
Apple’s granted patent was issued several weeks ago by the US Patent and Trademark Office. It was originally filed in H2 2018. Some of the work incorporated in this patent dates back to H2 2017.
All five inventors work on Apple’s Advanced Antenna Design Team. An engineer, Mr. Wu, has worked on new imaging radar systems, radar antenna designs, miniaturized antenna designs and more.