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Facebook reveals more about AR eyewear in new patent



Facebook talked about plans to make some AR glasses, but said the technology was years ago.
Facebook talked about plans to make some AR glasses, but said the technology was years ago.

Image: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Facebook Augmented Reality glasses may still take a few years to become a real product, but now I know a little more about how it works.

The new patent application includes additional details and audio processing methods for Facebook's AR glasses. Originally issued in January, but issued on Thursday, it is described as a "cartilage conduction audio system for eye-wear devices."

The overall design of the glasses is similar to that seen in previous patents published in 2017. But now the glasses are going to be much better.

Using sensors as well as sensors inside your ears, your glasses can project sounds into your ears and hear ambient noise around you. This idea is similar to headphones using bone conduction technology, but points out that the cartilage conduction method is more comfortable and reliable than bone conduction.

A patented illustration that details the audio system of glasses.

A patented illustration that details the audio system of glasses.

The sensor in the frame helps to deliver audio.

The sensor in the frame helps to deliver audio.

"This audio system includes a transducer that connects to your ear," the patent explains. "The transducer vibrates behind your ear to make a sound. […] Vibrates the cartilage to the ear of the user to generate an acoustic wave corresponding to the received audio content.

On Facebook, the ability to transmit sound without interfering with the ability to hear the surroundings is a key feature of the AR headset, as the wearer must be able to interact with the surrounding world. It also suggests that Facebook wants to wear glasses for a long time. The company did not respond immediately to the comment request.

"Patents who wear a head-mounted display in VR, AR and MR systems can benefit from having an ear canal uncovered and not covered by an audio device," the patent says. "Users can have a more immersive and safer experience. They can receive spatial signals from surrounding sounds when their ears are blocked."

Facebook officially announced plans to make several AR glasses, but little is known about the project. The company said that such products are at least five years away in 2017.

Business Insider announced in January that there is a group working on glasses at Reality Labs on Facebook, the AR and VR research division. Ravish Mehra, one of the employees on this latest patent, is a researcher at Reality Labs on Facebook, according to the LinkedIn profile.

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