Apple filed a continuation patent in Europe on Thursday that covers a major update to a key PrimeSense 3D scanning and projection invention. PrimeSense, which Apple acquired in late 2013, originally filed this patent in February 2013. Apple was granted this patent in Q1 2018. In 2019 Apple was granted another patent for this invention and we noted at the time that the patent claims were updated to include the use of a laser.
Apple’s PrimeSense team in Israel have updated the technology relating to this invention that could be used for short range scanning for Face ID and also for scanning images that require further distances as shown in our cover graphic. Here the scanner is scanning a much larger scene and yet can collectively scan people face and more.
As noted earlier, Apple’s 2019 granted patent introduced the use of a laser in its patent claims and in yesterday’s continuation patent “laser” has been clarified as being vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs).
A continuation patent always means that the company is adding new aspects to their invention and in this case Apple is adding 20 new claims with one of the main themes being the use of VCSELs as presented below:
1. A beam generating device, comprising: a semiconductor substrate, having an optical passband; a first array of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), which are formed on a first face of the semiconductor substrate and are configured to emit respective laser beams through the substrate at a wavelength within the passband; and a second array of microlenses, which are formed on a second face of the semiconductor substrate in respective alignment with the VCSELs so as to transmit the laser beams generated by the VCSELs, wherein the VCSELs are configured to be driven to emit the laser beams in predefined groups in order to change a characteristic of the laser beams.
2. The device according to claim 1, wherein the groups of the VCSELs are selected so that the device outputs beams of different diameters depending upon the group of the VCSELs that is driven.
3. The device according to claim 1, wherein at least some of the microlenses are offset relative to the VCSELs so as to control an angle of transmission of the respective laser beams.
4. The device according to claim 3, wherein the at least some of the microlenses are offset inwardly relative to the VCSELs, so as to cause the respective laser beams to converge together.
5. The device according to claim 1, wherein the substrate comprises GaAs.
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