Magic Leap Patent | Selecting Virtual Objects In A Three-Dimensional Space

Patent: Selecting Virtual Objects In A Three-Dimensional Space

Publication Number: 20200081555

Publication Date: 20200312

Applicants: Magic Leap

Abstract

Systems and methods for interacting with virtual objects in a three-dimensional space using a wearable system are disclosed. The wearable system can be programmed to permit user interaction with interactable objects in a field of regard (FOR) of a user. The FOR includes a portion of the environment around the user that is capable of being perceived by the user via the AR system. The system can determine a group of interactable objects in the FOR of the user and determine a pose of the user. The system can update, based on a change in the pose or a field of view (FOV) of the user, a subgroup of the interactable objects that are located in the FOV of the user and receive a selection of a target interactable object from the subgroup of interactable objects. The system can initiate a selection event on the target interactable object.

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 15/296,869, filed on Oct. 18, 2016, entitled “SELECTING VIRTUAL OBJECTS IN A THREE-DIMENSIONAL SPACE”, which claims the benefit of priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/244,115, filed on Oct. 20, 2015, entitled “USER APPLICATIONS, INTERFACES, AND EXPERIENCES WITH AUGMENTED REALITY DISPLAY DEVICES,” to U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/301,422, filed on Feb. 29, 2016, entitled “SELECTING VIRTUAL OBJECTS IN 3D SPACE,” and to U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/316,179, filed on Mar. 31, 2016, entitled “SELECTING VIRTUAL OBJECTS IN 3D SPACE.” All of the foregoing applications are hereby incorporated by reference herein in their entireties.

FIELD

[0002] The present disclosure relates to virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality imaging and visualization systems and in particular to systems for interacting with virtual objects in the three-dimensional (3D) space.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Modern computing and display technologies have facilitated the development of systems for so called “virtual reality”, “augmented reality”, or “mixed 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; an mixed reality, or “MR”, related to merging real and virtual worlds to produce new environments where physical and virtual objects co-exist and interact in real time. As it turns out, the human visual perception system is very complex, and producing a VR, AR, or MR technology that facilitates a comfortable, natural-feeling, rich presentation of virtual image elements amongst other virtual or real-world imagery elements is challenging. Systems and methods disclosed herein address various challenges related to VR, AR and MR technology.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] In some embodiments, a system for changing a user input mode for a wearable device is disclosed. The system can comprise a display system of the wearable device configured to present a three-dimensional (3D) view to a user where the 3D view comprises interactable objects, a user input device configured to receive a user input, a sensor configured to acquire data associated with a pose of the user, and a hardware processor in communication with the user input device. The hardware processor can be programmed to: determine whether a current user input mode for interacting with the interactable objects is a first user input mode or a second user input mode, wherein the first user input mode is based at least partly on the pose of the user and the second user input mode is based at least partly on the user input from the user input device. In response to a determination that the current user input mode is the first user input mode, the hardware processor can monitor the pose of the user using the sensor; present via the display system, based at least partly on the monitored pose, a focus indicator in a first shape associated with the first user input mode in a direction related to the pose of the user; receive a first indication to switch to the second user input mode; and switch the current user input mode to the second user input mode in response the first indication. In response to a determination that the current user input mode is the second user input mode: the hardware processor can monitor the user input from the user input device; present via the display system, based at least partly on the monitored input, the focus indicator in the second shape associated with the second user input mode; receive a second indication to switch to the first user input mode; and switch the current user input mode to the first user input mode in response the second indication.

[0005] In certain embodiments, a method for changing a user input mode for a wearable device is disclosed. The method may be performed under control of a wearable device comprising a computer processor. The wearable device can be configured to permit user interaction with interactable objects in a field of regard (FOR) of a user, the FOR comprising a portion of an environment around the user that is capable of being perceived by the user via a display system of the wearable device. The method comprises: determining a pose of a user; displaying, via the display system, a first focus indicator associated with a target interactable object in a direction related to the pose of the user, wherein the target interactable object comprises a plurality of virtual objects; receiving a selection of the target interactable object; presenting an option to the user for switching the user input mode from poses to hand gestures on a user input device; displaying, via the display system, the plurality of virtual objects; displaying, via the display system, a second focus indicator associated with a target virtual object of the plurality of virtual objects in response to a determination that the user has switched the user input mode from poses to hand gestures on the user input device; and updating the second focus indicator based at least partly on a user input from the user input device.

[0006] In some embodiments, a wearable system and a method for selecting a virtual object located in a three-dimensional (3D) space are disclosed. The wearable system can comprise a display system configured to present virtual objects in a 3D space; a non-transitory data store configured to store interactable objects in the 3D space; a sensor configured to determine a pose of a user; and a hardware processor programmed to communicate with the display system, the data store, and the sensor. The wearable system and the method can determine the pose of the user based at least partly on data received from the sensor; determine a field of view (FOV) of the user based at least partly on the pose of the user, the FOV comprising a portion of an environment of the user that is perceived at a given time by the user; identify a group of interactable objects in the FOV; identify a target interactable object in the FOV based least partly on the pose of the user; and initiate a selection event associated with the target interactable object.

[0007] Details of one or more implementations of the subject matter described in this specification are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Other features, aspects, and advantages will become apparent from the description, the drawings, and the claims. Neither this summary nor the following detailed description purports to define or limit the scope of the inventive subject matter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] FIG. 1 depicts an illustration of a mixed reality scenario with certain virtual reality objects, and certain physical objects viewed by a person.

[0009] FIG. 2 schematically illustrates an example of a wearable system.

[0010] FIG. 3 schematically illustrates aspects of an approach for simulating three-dimensional imagery using multiple depth planes.

[0011] FIG. 4 schematically illustrates an example of a waveguide stack for outputting image information to a user.

[0012] FIG. 5 shows example exit beams that may be outputted by a waveguide.

[0013] FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram showing an optical system including a waveguide apparatus, an optical coupler subsystem to optically couple light to or from the waveguide apparatus, and a control subsystem, used in the generation of a multi-focal volumetric display, image, or light field.

[0014] FIG. 7 is a block diagram of an example of a wearable system.

[0015] FIG. 8 is a process flow diagram of an example of a method of rendering virtual content in relation to recognized objects.

[0016] FIG. 9 is a block diagram of another example of a wearable system.

[0017] FIG. 10 is a process flow diagram of an example of a method for determining user input to a wearable system.

[0018] FIG. 11 is a process flow diagram of an example of a method for interacting with a virtual user interface.

[0019] FIG. 12 illustrates an example of virtual objects in the field of view and virtual objects in the field of regard.

[0020] FIG. 13A illustrates an example of selecting an interactable object with a touch gesture on a touch screen of a user input device.

[0021] FIG. 13B illustrates an example of filtering selectable objects with hand gestures on a user input device.

[0022] FIG. 14 is an example of a coordinate system for head poses.

[0023] FIG. 15 illustrates an example of interacting with interactable objects with head poses.

[0024] FIG. 16 illustrates an example of interacting with interactable objects with hand gestures.

[0025] FIG. 17 illustrates an example interaction event with a weather application.

[0026] FIG. 18 illustrates an example user experience of interacting with a 3D virtual object.

[0027] FIG. 19 illustrates an example process for selecting a virtual object using a combination of poses and hand gestures on the user input device.

[0028] FIG. 20 illustrates an example process for interacting with a virtual object using a combination of poses and hand gestures on the user input device.

[0029] FIG. 21 illustrates an example process for switching an input control from a head pose to a hand gesture based on contextual information.

[0030] FIG. 22 illustrates an example process for switching a mode of user interaction based on contextual information.

[0031] FIG. 23 illustrates an example process of interacting with an interactable object which comprises a group of virtual objects.

[0032] Throughout the drawings, reference numbers may be re-used to indicate correspondence between referenced elements. The drawings are provided to illustrate example embodiments described herein and are not intended to limit the scope of the disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Overview

[0033] With the use of the AR/VR/MR devices, a user may want to target and select an object in a three-dimensional (3D) space using a virtual user interface. For example, a user may select a virtual object using body poses such as physically approaching, grabbing or touching the items. The user may also select the virtual object by pointing at and clicking on the objects with virtual rays or beams. But these techniques can cause fatigue and can be difficult to select the objects with precision because the user may be required to hold his pose still to achieve the selection.

[0034] The present disclosure provides examples of wearable systems that address some or all of these problems. As one example, the user may move his head and look toward a group of objects. The object nearest to the center of the user’s field of view can be highlighted as a potential target object, and the user can actuate a user input device (e.g., by swiping on a touchscreen) to transport the highlight from one object to another. The user can confirm the selection of the target object by actuating the user input device again (e.g. by touching the touchscreen). Once selected, the AR user interface may permit the user to perform additional actions on the selected target object (e.g., display or select from a menu associated with the object, perform an action associated with a game that the target object appears in, etc.). This technique may be particularly advantageous for selecting the objects that the user is interested in while reducing fatigue. This is because head poses are difficult to control with precision. The wearable system can preliminarily identify an object of interest based on the user’s head pose and in the meantime, allow the user to select objects with precision using hand gestures.

[0035] In some implementations, an interactable object may include multiple virtual objects. For example, a virtual user interface plane may include multiple virtual applications such as, e.g., a video streaming application, a virtual classroom application, a weather application, a game application, an astronomy application, etc. The wearable system may support different user input modes based on the characteristics of the interactable object. For example, when the interactable object is a user interface plane (which may be large in size), the wearable system may allow the user to interact with it using poses. On the other hand, when the interactable object is relatively small, the wearable system may instead set the user input device as the default input mode to allow a user to interact with virtual objects with precision. These implementations may be advantageous because moving and targeting large objects may require less precision on user’s movement while moving and selecting small objects may require the user to target with precision.

[0036] The wearable system can also determine the user input mode based on contextual information. For example, the wearable system can determine the layout of the virtual objects in the user’s environment. When the wearable system detects a dense cluster of virtual objects in the user’s direction of gaze, the wearable system may give the user the option to switch the input control from head control to hand control. This way, the user can interact with the virtual objects more precisely. As another example, the AR system may detect an orientation of the object (e.g., vertical or horizontal) and provide appropriate interactions for the user (e.g., volume controls for a television application that appears vertical in front of the user or typing controls for a virtual keyboard that appears horizontal on a user’s desk).

[0037] The wearable system can permit a user to share virtual content with others (also wearing a wearable system), for example, by passing a world map of the user’s environment or communicating the virtual content (or updates to the virtual content) among the wearable systems via a network.

Examples of 3D Display

[0038] FIG. 1 depicts an illustration of a mixed reality scenario with certain virtual reality objects, and certain physical objects viewed by a person. In FIG. 1, an MR scene 100 is depicted wherein a user of an MR technology sees a real-world park-like setting 110 featuring people, trees, buildings in the background, and a concrete platform 120. In addition to these items, the user of the MR technology also perceives that he “sees” a robot statue 130 standing upon the real-world platform 120, and a cartoon-like avatar character 140 flying by which seems to be a personification of a bumble bee, even though these elements do not exist in the real world.

[0039] In order for the 3D display to produce a true sensation of depth, and more specifically, a simulated sensation of surface depth, it may be desirable for each point in the display’s visual field to generate an accommodative response corresponding to its virtual depth. If the accommodative response to a display point does not correspond to the virtual depth of that point, as determined by the binocular depth cues of convergence and stereopsis, the human eye may experience an accommodation conflict, resulting in unstable imaging, harmful eye strain, headaches, and, in the absence of accommodation information, almost a complete lack of surface depth.

[0040] VR, AR, and MR experiences can be provided by display systems having displays in which images corresponding to a plurality of depth planes are provided to a viewer. The images may be different for each depth plane (e.g., provide slightly different presentations of a scene or object) and may be separately focused by the viewer’s eyes, thereby helping to provide the user with depth cues based on the accommodation of the eye required to bring into focus different image features for the scene located on different depth plane or based on observing different image features on different depth planes being out of focus. As discussed elsewhere herein, such depth cues provide credible perceptions of depth.

[0041] FIG. 2 illustrates an example of wearable system 200. The wearable system 200 includes a display 220, and various mechanical and electronic modules and systems to support the functioning of display 220. The display 220 may be coupled to a frame 230, which is wearable by a user, wearer, or viewer 210. The display 220 can be positioned in front of the eyes of the user 210. The display 220 can present AR/VR/MR content to a user. The display 220 can comprise a head mounted display (HMD) that is worn on the head of the user. In some embodiments, a speaker 240 is coupled to the frame 230 and positioned adjacent the ear canal of the user (in some embodiments, another speaker, not shown, is positioned adjacent the other ear canal of the user to provide for stereo/shapeable sound control).

[0042] The wearable system 200 can include an outward-facing imaging system 464 (shown in FIG. 4) which observes the world in the environment around the user. The wearable system 200 can also include an inward-facing imaging system 462 (shown in FIG. 4) which can track the eye movements of the user. The inward-facing imaging system may track either one eye’s movements or both eyes’ movements. The inward-facing imaging system 462 may be attached to the frame 230 and may be in electrical communication with the processing modules 260 or 270, which may process image information acquired by the inward-facing imaging system to determine, e.g., the pupil diameters or orientations of the eyes, eye movements or eye pose of the user 210.

[0043] As an example, the wearable system 200 can use the outward-facing imaging system 464 or the inward-facing imaging system 462 to acquire images of a pose of the user. The images may be still images, frames of a video, or a video, in combination or the like.

[0044] The display 220 can be operatively coupled 250, such as by a wired lead or wireless connectivity, to a local data processing module 260 which may be mounted in a variety of configurations, such as fixedly attached to the frame 230, fixedly attached to a helmet or hat worn by the user, embedded in headphones, or otherwise removably attached to the user 210 (e.g., in a backpack-style configuration, in a belt-coupling style configuration).

[0045] The local processing and data module 260 may comprise a hardware processor, as well as digital memory, such as non-volatile memory (e.g., flash memory), both of which may be utilized to assist in the processing, caching, and storage of data. The data may include data a) captured from sensors (which may be, e.g., operatively coupled to the frame 230 or otherwise attached to the user 210), such as image capture devices (e.g., cameras in the inward-facing imaging system or the outward-facing imaging system), microphones, inertial measurement units (IMUs), accelerometers, compasses, global positioning system (GPS) units, radio devices, or gyroscopes; or b) acquired or processed using remote processing module 270 or remote data repository 280, possibly for passage to the display 220 after such processing or retrieval. The local processing and data module 260 may be operatively coupled by communication links 262 or 264, such as via wired or wireless communication links, to the remote processing module 270 or remote data repository 280 such that these remote modules are available as resources to the local processing and data module 260. In addition, remote processing module 280 and remote data repository 280 may be operatively coupled to each other.

[0046] In some embodiments, the remote processing module 270 may comprise one or more processors configured to analyze and process data and/or image information. In some embodiments, the remote data repository 280 may comprise a digital data storage facility, which may be available through the internet or other networking configuration in a “cloud” resource configuration. In some embodiments, all data is stored and all computations are performed in the local processing and data module, allowing fully autonomous use from a remote module.

[0047] The human visual system is complicated and providing a realistic perception of depth is challenging. Without being limited by theory, it is believed that viewers of an object may perceive the object as being three-dimensional due to a combination of vergence and accommodation. Vergence movements (i.e., rolling movements of the pupils toward or away from each other to converge the lines of sight of the eyes to fixate upon an object) of the two eyes relative to each other are closely associated with focusing (or “accommodation”) of the lenses of the eyes. Under normal conditions, changing the focus of the lenses of the eyes, or accommodating the eyes, to change focus from one object to another object at a different distance will automatically cause a matching change in vergence to the same distance, under a relationship known as the “accommodation-vergence reflex.” Likewise, a change in vergence will trigger a matching change in accommodation, under normal conditions. Display systems that provide a better match between accommodation and vergence may form more realistic and comfortable simulations of three-dimensional imagery.

[0048] FIG. 3 illustrates aspects of an approach for simulating a three-dimensional imagery using multiple depth planes. With reference to FIG. 3, objects at various distances from eyes 302 and 304 on the z-axis are accommodated by the eyes 302 and 304 so that those objects are in focus. The eyes 302 and 304 assume particular accommodated states to bring into focus objects at different distances along the z-axis. Consequently, a particular accommodated state may be said to be associated with a particular one of depth planes 306, with has an associated focal distance, such that objects or parts of objects in a particular depth plane are in focus when the eye is in the accommodated state for that depth plane. In some embodiments, three-dimensional imagery may be simulated by providing different presentations of an image for each of the eyes 302 and 304, and also by providing different presentations of the image corresponding to each of the depth planes. While shown as being separate for clarity of illustration, it will be appreciated that the fields of view of the eyes 302 and 304 may overlap, for example, as distance along the z-axis increases. In addition, while shown as flat for the ease of illustration, it will be appreciated that the contours of a depth plane may be curved in physical space, such that all features in a depth plane are in focus with the eye in a particular accommodated state. Without being limited by theory, it is believed that the human eye typically can interpret a finite number of depth planes to provide depth perception. Consequently, a highly believable simulation of perceived depth may be achieved by providing, to the eye, different presentations of an image corresponding to each of these limited number of depth planes.

Waveguide Stack Assembly

[0049] FIG. 4 illustrates an example of a waveguide stack for outputting image information to a user. A wearable system 400 includes a stack of waveguides, or stacked waveguide assembly 480 that may be utilized to provide three-dimensional perception to the eye/brain using a plurality of waveguides 432b, 434b, 436b, 438b, 400b. In some embodiments, the wearable system 400 may correspond to wearable system 200 of FIG. 2, with FIG. 4 schematically showing some parts of that wearable system 200 in greater detail. For example, in some embodiments, the waveguide assembly 480 may be integrated into the display 220 of FIG. 2.

[0050] With continued reference to FIG. 4, the waveguide assembly 480 may also include a plurality of features 458, 456, 454, 452 between the waveguides. In some embodiments, the features 458, 456, 454, 452 may be lenses. In other embodiments, the features 458, 456, 454, 452 may not be lenses. Rather, they may simply be spacers (e.g., cladding layers or structures for forming air gaps).

[0051] The waveguides 432b, 434b, 436b, 438b, 440b or the plurality of lenses 458, 456, 454, 452 may be configured to send image information to the eye with various levels of wavefront curvature or light ray divergence. Each waveguide level may be associated with a particular depth plane and may be configured to output image information corresponding to that depth plane. Image injection devices 420, 422, 424, 426, 428 may be utilized to inject image information into the waveguides 440b, 438b, 436b, 434b, 432b, each of which may be configured to distribute incoming light across each respective waveguide, for output toward the eye 410. Light exits an output surface of the image injection devices 420, 422, 424, 426, 428 and is injected into a corresponding input edge of the waveguides 440b, 438b, 436b, 434b, 432b. In some embodiments, a single beam of light (e.g., a collimated beam) may be injected into each waveguide to output an entire field of cloned collimated beams that are directed toward the eye 410 at particular angles (and amounts of divergence) corresponding to the depth plane associated with a particular waveguide.

[0052] In some embodiments, the image injection devices 420, 422, 424, 426, 428 are discrete displays that each produce image information for injection into a corresponding waveguide 440b, 438b, 436b, 434b, 432b, respectively. In some other embodiments, the image injection devices 420, 422, 424, 426, 428 are the output ends of a single multiplexed display which may, e.g., pipe image information via one or more optical conduits (such as fiber optic cables) to each of the image injection devices 420, 422, 424, 426, 428.

[0053] A controller 460 controls the operation of the stacked waveguide assembly 480 and the image injection devices 420, 422, 424, 426, 428. The controller 460 includes programming (e.g., instructions in a non-transitory computer-readable medium) that regulates the timing and provision of image information to the waveguides 440b, 438b, 436b, 434b, 432b. In some embodiments, the controller 460 may be a single integral device, or a distributed system connected by wired or wireless communication channels. The controller 460 may be part of the processing modules 260 or 270 (illustrated in FIG. 2) in some embodiments.

[0054] The waveguides 440b, 438b, 436b, 434b, 432b may be configured to propagate light within each respective waveguide by total internal reflection (TIR). The waveguides 440b, 438b, 436b, 434b, 432b may each be planar or have another shape (e.g., curved), with major top and bottom surfaces and edges extending between those major top and bottom surfaces. In the illustrated configuration, the waveguides 440b, 438b, 436b, 434b, 432b may each include light extracting optical elements 440a, 438a, 436a, 434a, 432a that are configured to extract light out of a waveguide by redirecting the light, propagating within each respective waveguide, out of the waveguide to output image information to the eye 410. Extracted light may also be referred to as outcoupled light, and light extracting optical elements may also be referred to as outcoupling optical elements. An extracted beam of light is outputted by the waveguide at locations at which the light propagating in the waveguide strikes a light redirecting element. The light extracting optical elements (440a, 438a, 436a, 434a, 432a) may, for example, be reflective or diffractive optical features. While illustrated disposed at the bottom major surfaces of the waveguides 440b, 438b, 436b, 434b, 432b for ease of description and drawing clarity, in some embodiments, the light extracting optical elements 440a, 438a, 436a, 434a, 432a may be disposed at the top or bottom major surfaces, or may be disposed directly in the volume of the waveguides 440b, 438b, 436b, 434b, 432b. In some embodiments, the light extracting optical elements 440a, 438a, 436a, 434a, 432a may be formed in a layer of material that is attached to a transparent substrate to form the waveguides 440b, 438b, 436b, 434b, 432b. In some other embodiments, the waveguides 440b, 438b, 436b, 434b, 432b may be a monolithic piece of material and the light extracting optical elements 440a, 438a, 436a, 434a, 432a may be formed on a surface or in the interior of that piece of material.

[0055] With continued reference to FIG. 4, as discussed herein, each waveguide 440b, 438b, 436b, 434b, 432b is configured to output light to form an image corresponding to a particular depth plane. For example, the waveguide 432b nearest the eye may be configured to deliver collimated light, as injected into such waveguide 432b, to the eye 410. The collimated light may be representative of the optical infinity focal plane. The next waveguide up 434b may be configured to send out collimated light which passes through the first lens 452 (e.g., a negative lens) before it can reach the eye 410. First lens 452 may be configured to create a slight convex wavefront curvature so that the eye/brain interprets light coming from that next waveguide up 434b as coming from a first focal plane closer inward toward the eye 410 from optical infinity. Similarly, the third up waveguide 436b passes its output light through both the first lens 452 and second lens 454 before reaching the eye 410. The combined optical power of the first and second lenses 452 and 454 may be configured to create another incremental amount of wavefront curvature so that the eye/brain interprets light coming from the third waveguide 436b as coming from a second focal plane that is even closer inward toward the person from optical infinity than was light from the next waveguide up 434b.

[0056] The other waveguide layers (e.g., waveguides 438b, 440b) and lenses (e.g., lenses 456, 458) are similarly configured, with the highest waveguide 440b in the stack sending its output through all of the lenses between it and the eye for an aggregate focal power representative of the closest focal plane to the person. To compensate for the stack of lenses 458, 456, 454, 452 when viewing/interpreting light coming from the world 470 on the other side of the stacked waveguide assembly 480, a compensating lens layer 430 may be disposed at the top of the stack to compensate for the aggregate power of the lens stack 458, 456, 454, 452 below. Such a configuration provides as many perceived focal planes as there are available waveguide/lens pairings. Both the light extracting optical elements of the waveguides and the focusing aspects of the lenses may be static (e.g., not dynamic or electro-active). In some alternative embodiments, either or both may be dynamic using electro-active features.

[0057] With continued reference to FIG. 4, the light extracting optical elements 440a, 438a, 436a, 434a, 432a may be configured to both redirect light out of their respective waveguides and to output this light with the appropriate amount of divergence or collimation for a particular depth plane associated with the waveguide. As a result, waveguides having different associated depth planes may have different configurations of light extracting optical elements, which output light with a different amount of divergence depending on the associated depth plane. In some embodiments, as discussed herein, the light extracting optical elements 440a, 438a, 436a, 434a, 432a may be volumetric or surface features, which may be configured to output light at specific angles. For example, the light extracting optical elements 440a, 438a, 436a, 434a, 432a may be volume holograms, surface holograms, and/or diffraction gratings. Light extracting optical elements, such as diffraction gratings, are described in U.S. Patent Publication No. 2015/0178939, published Jun. 25, 2015, which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

[0058] In some embodiments, the light extracting optical elements 440a, 438a, 436a, 434a, 432a are diffractive features that form a diffraction pattern, or “diffractive optical element” (also referred to herein as a “DOE”). Preferably, the DOE has a relatively low diffraction efficiency so that only a portion of the light of the beam is deflected away toward the eye 410 with each intersection of the DOE, while the rest continues to move through a waveguide via total internal reflection. The light carrying the image information can thus be divided into a number of related exit beams that exit the waveguide at a multiplicity of locations and the result is a fairly uniform pattern of exit emission toward the eye 304 for this particular collimated beam bouncing around within a waveguide.

[0059] In some embodiments, one or more DOEs may be switchable between “on” state in which they actively diffract, and “off” state in which they do not significantly diffract. For instance, a switchable DOE may comprise a layer of polymer dispersed liquid crystal, in which microdroplets comprise a diffraction pattern in a host medium, and the refractive index of the microdroplets can be switched to substantially match the refractive index of the host material (in which case the pattern does not appreciably diffract incident light) or the microdroplet can be switched to an index that does not match that of the host medium (in which case the pattern actively diffracts incident light).

[0060] In some embodiments, the number and distribution of depth planes or depth of field may be varied dynamically based on the pupil sizes or orientations of the eyes of the viewer. Depth of field may change inversely with a viewer’s pupil size. As a result, as the sizes of the pupils of the viewer’s eyes decrease, the depth of field increases such that one plane that is not discernible because the location of that plane is beyond the depth of focus of the eye may become discernible and appear more in focus with reduction of pupil size and commensurate with the increase in depth of field. Likewise, the number of spaced apart depth planes used to present different images to the viewer may be decreased with the decreased pupil size. For example, a viewer may not be able to clearly perceive the details of both a first depth plane and a second depth plane at one pupil size without adjusting the accommodation of the eye away from one depth plane and to the other depth plane. These two depth planes may, however, be sufficiently in focus at the same time to the user at another pupil size without changing accommodation.

[0061] In some embodiments, the display system may vary the number of waveguides receiving image information based upon determinations of pupil size or orientation, or upon receiving electrical signals indicative of particular pupil size or orientation. For example, if the user’s eyes are unable to distinguish between two depth planes associated with two waveguides, then the controller 460 may be configured or programmed to cease providing image information to one of these waveguides. Advantageously, this may reduce the processing burden on the system, thereby increasing the responsiveness of the system. In embodiments in which the DOEs for a waveguide are switchable between the on and off states, the DOEs may be switched to the off state when the waveguide does receive image information.

[0062] In some embodiments, it may be desirable to have an exit beam meet the condition of having a diameter that is less than the diameter of the eye of a viewer. However, meeting this condition may be challenging in view of the variability in size of the viewer’s pupils. In some embodiments, this condition is met over a wide range of pupil sizes by varying the size of the exit beam in response to determinations of the size of the viewer’s pupil. For example, as the pupil size decreases, the size of the exit beam may also decrease. In some embodiments, the exit beam size may be varied using a variable aperture.

[0063] The wearable system 400 can include an outward-facing imaging system 464 (e.g., a digital camera) that images a portion of the world 470. This portion of the world 470 may be referred to as the field of view (FOV) and the imaging system 464 is sometimes referred to as an FOV camera. The entire region available for viewing or imaging by a viewer may be referred to as the field of regard (FOR). The FOR may include 4.pi. steradians of solid angle surrounding the wearable system 400 because the wearer can move his body, head, or eyes to perceive substantially any direction in space. In other contexts, the wearer’s movements may be more constricted, and accordingly the wearer’s FOR may subtend a smaller solid angle. Images obtained from the outward-facing imaging system 464 can be used to track gestures made by the user (e.g., hand or finger gestures), detect objects in the world 470 in front of the user, and so forth.

[0064] The wearable system 400 can also include an inward-facing imaging system 466 (e.g., a digital camera), which observes the movements of the user, such as the eye movements and the facial movements. The inward-facing imaging system 466 may be used to capture images of the eye 410 to determine the size and/or orientation of the pupil of the eye 304. The inward-facing imaging system 466 can be used to obtain images for use in determining the direction the user is looking (e.g., eye pose) or for biometric identification of the user (e.g., via iris identification). In some embodiments, at least one camera may be utilized for each eye, to separately determine the pupil size or eye pose of each eye independently, thereby allowing the presentation of image information to each eye to be dynamically tailored to that eye. In some other embodiments, the pupil diameter or orientation of only a single eye 410 (e.g., using only a single camera per pair of eyes) is determined and assumed to be similar for both eyes of the user. The images obtained by the inward-facing imaging system 466 may be analyzed to determine the user’s eye pose or mood, which can be used by the wearable system 400 to decide which audio or visual content should be presented to the user. The wearable system 400 may also determine head pose (e.g., head position or head orientation) using sensors such as IMUs, accelerometers, gyroscopes, etc.

[0065] The wearable system 400 can include a user input device 466 by which the user can input commands to the controller 460 to interact with the wearable system 400. For example, the user input device 466 can include a trackpad, a touchscreen, a joystick, a multiple degree-of-freedom (DOF) controller, a capacitive sensing device, a game controller, a keyboard, a mouse, a directional pad (D-pad), a wand, a haptic device, a totem (e.g., functioning as a virtual user input device), and so forth. In some cases, the user may use a finger (e.g., a thumb) to press or swipe on a touch-sensitive input device to provide input to the wearable system 400 (e.g., to provide user input to a user interface provided by the wearable system 400). The user input device 466 may be held by the user’s hand during the use of the wearable system 400. The user input device 466 can be in wired or wireless communication with the wearable system 400.

[0066] FIG. 5 shows an example of exit beams outputted by a waveguide. One waveguide is illustrated, but it will be appreciated that other waveguides in the waveguide assembly 480 may function similarly, where the waveguide assembly 480 includes multiple waveguides. Light 520 is injected into the waveguide 432b at the input edge 432c of the waveguide 432b and propagates within the waveguide 432b by TIR. At points where the light 520 impinges on the DOE 432a, a portion of the light exits the waveguide as exit beams 510. The exit beams 510 are illustrated as substantially parallel but they may also be redirected to propagate to the eye 410 at an angle (e.g., forming divergent exit beams), depending on the depth plane associated with the waveguide 432b. It will be appreciated that substantially parallel exit beams may be indicative of a waveguide with light extracting optical elements that outcouple light to form images that appear to be set on a depth plane at a large distance (e.g., optical infinity) from the eye 410. Other waveguides or other sets of light extracting optical elements may output an exit beam pattern that is more divergent, which would require the eye 410 to accommodate to a closer distance to bring it into focus on the retina and would be interpreted by the brain as light from a distance closer to the eye 410 than optical infinity.

[0067] FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram showing an optical system including a waveguide apparatus, an optical coupler subsystem to optically couple light to or from the waveguide apparatus, and a control subsystem, used in the generation of a multi-focal volumetric display, image, or light field. The optical system can include a waveguide apparatus, an optical coupler subsystem to optically couple light to or from the waveguide apparatus, and a control subsystem. The optical system can be used to generate a multi-focal volumetric, image, or light field. The optical system can include one or more primary planar waveguides 632a (only one is shown in FIG. 6) and one or more DOEs 632b associated with each of at least some of the primary waveguides 632a. The planar waveguides 632b can be similar to the waveguides 432b, 434b, 436b, 438b, 440b discussed with reference to FIG. 4. The optical system may employ a distribution waveguide apparatus to relay light along a first axis (vertical or Y-axis in view of FIG. 6), and expand the light’s effective exit pupil along the first axis (e.g., Y-axis). The distribution waveguide apparatus may, for example, include a distribution planar waveguide 622b and at least one DOE 622a (illustrated by double dash-dot line) associated with the distribution planar waveguide 622b. The distribution planar waveguide 622b may be similar or identical in at least some respects to the primary planar waveguide 632b, having a different orientation therefrom. Likewise, at least one DOE 622a may be similar or identical in at least some respects to the DOE 632a. For example, the distribution planar waveguide 622b or DOE 622a may be comprised of the same materials as the primary planar waveguide 632b or DOE 632a, respectively. Embodiments of the optical display system 600 shown in FIG. 6 can be integrated into the wearable system 200 shown in FIG. 2.

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