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Title:
ADJUSTABLE LIGHT PROJECTOR FOR FLOOD ILLUMINATION AND ACTIVE DEPTH SENSING
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/023160
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Aspects of the present disclosure relate to an adjustable light projector for active depth sensing and flood illumination. An example device includes a light projector that includes a light source to emit a light along a first direction and a diffractive element positioned in a path of the emitted light along the first direction. The diffractive element includes a diffractive optical element having a first refractive index and configured to project a distribution of focused light from the emitted light during a first mode. The diffractive element also includes a diffusion element having a second refractive index and configured to diffuse the emitted light during a second mode.

Inventors:
MA JIAN (US)
GOMA SERGIU (US)
Application Number:
US2019/038235
Publication Date:
January 30, 2020
Filing Date:
June 20, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
QUALCOMM INC (US)
International Classes:
G01B11/25; G01S17/89; G02B5/02; G02B27/09; G02B27/42; G02F1/1334; G02F1/13357; G03B21/14; G06T7/521; H04N5/232; H04N13/271
Domestic Patent References:
WO2017178781A12017-10-19
WO2012172295A12012-12-20
Foreign References:
US20180038685A12018-02-08
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PARADICE III, William L. (Paradice and Li LLP, 1999 S. Bascom Ave. Suite 30, Campbell California, 95008, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A device comprising a light projector, the light projector comprising:

a light source configured to emit a light along a first direction; and

a diffractive element positioned in a path of the emitted light along the first direction, comprising:

a diffractive optical element having a first refractive index, the diffractive optical element configured to project a distribution of focused light from the emitted light during a first mode of the light projector; and

a diffusion element having a second refractive index, the diffusion element configured to diffuse the emitted light during a second mode of the light projector.

2. The device of claim 1, wherein:

the diffractive element further comprises one or more electrical contacts coupled to the diffusion element;

the device is configured to apply electricity to the diffusion element via the one or more electrical contacts; and

the second refractive index is adjustable based on whether an electricity is applied to the diffusion element.

3. The device of claim 1, further comprising a refractive material located between the diffractive optical element and the diffusion element, wherein a third refractive index of the refractive material is adjustable between:

for the first mode, different from the first refractive index; and

for the second mode, different from the second refractive index

4. The device of claim 3, wherein the light projector further comprises one or more electrical contacts coupled to the refractive material, wherein the third refractive index is adjustable based on whether an electricity is applied to the refractive material via the one or more electrical contacts in switching operation of the light projector between the first mode and the second mode.

5. The device of claim 4, wherein the refractive material includes a liquid crystal including molecules whose orientations are adjustable based on electricity applied to the liquid crystal, wherein the third refractive index is based on the orientations of the molecules.

6. The device of claim 5, wherein:

when electricity is not applied to the liquid crystal, the molecules include a first group of molecules with a first orientation associated with the first refractive index and a second group of molecules with a second orientation associated with the second refractive index; and

when electricity is applied to the liquid crystal, the molecules have one orientation from the group consisting of:

the first orientation; and

the second orientation.

7. The device of claim 3, wherein the third refractive index is adjustable based on adjusting a polarity of the emitted light along the first direction in switching operation of the light projector between the first mode and the second mode.

8. The device of claim 3, wherein in the first mode:

the third refractive index is the same as the second refractive index; and

a final light projection from the diffractive element is the distribution of focused light from the diffractive optical element.

9. The device of claim 8, wherein in the second mode:

the third refractive index is the same as the first refractive index; and

the final light projection from the diffractive element is the emitted light from the light source diffused by the diffusion element, wherein the diffractive optical element is prevented from projecting the distribution of focused light.

10. The device of claim 8, wherein in the second mode:

the third refractive index is different from the first refractive index; and

the final light projection from the diffractive element is the emitted light from the light source diffused by the diffusion element, wherein:

the diffractive optical element is located at a proximal end to the light source along the first direction of the diffractive element;

the diffusion element is located at a distal end to the light source along the first direction of the diffractive element;

the diffractive optical element is configured to project the distribution of focused light in the second mode; and

the diffusion element is configured to diffuse the light in the distribution of focused light from the diffractive optical element in projecting the final light projection.

11. The device of claim 1, wherein the light source is configured to emit infrared light.

12. The device of claim 11, further comprising an infrared receiver configured to receive reflections of the infrared light projected by the light projector.

13. The device of claim 12, further comprising one or more processors configured to determine one or more depths from the received reflections when the light projector is operating in the first mode.

14. The device of claim 13, wherein the one or more processors are further configured to perform low light image capture from the received reflections when the light projector is operating in the second mode.

15. The device of claim 14, wherein the device is a wireless communication device comprising one or more wireless transceivers.

16. A method, comprising:

emitting, by a light source of a light projector, a light along a first direction;

projecting, by a diffractive optical element of a diffractive element of the light projector, a distribution of focused light from the emitted light during a first mode of the light projector, the diffractive optical element having a first refractive index; and

diffusing, by a diffusion element of the diffractive element, the emitted light during a second mode of the light projector, the diffusion element having a second refractive index.

17. The method of claim 16, further comprising switching between the first mode and the second mode by adjusting the second refractive index, wherein the second refractive index is based on whether an electricity is applied to the diffusion element.

18. The method of claim 16, further comprising switching between the first mode and the second mode adjusting a third refractive index of a refractive material located between the diffractive optical element and the diffusion element, wherein the third refractive index is:

for the first mode, different from the first refractive index; and

for the second mode, different from the second refractive index

19. The method of claim 18, wherein adjusting the third refractive index of the refractive material comprises applying or removing electricity to or from the refractive material.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein adjusting the third refractive index further comprises adjusting orientations of molecules of a liquid crystal of the refractive material through applying or removing electricity to or from the liquid crystal.

21. The method of claim 20, wherein:

when electricity is not applied to the liquid crystal, the molecules include a first group of molecules with a first orientation associated with the first refractive index and a second group of molecules with a second orientation associated with the second refractive index; and

when electricity is applied to the liquid crystal, the molecules have one orientation from the group consisting of:

the first orientation; and

the second orientation.

22. The method of claim 18, wherein adjusting the third refractive index of the refractive material comprises adjusting a polarity of the emitted light along the first direction in switching operation of the light projector between the first mode and the second mode.

23. The method of claim 22, further comprising projecting, by the diffractive element, a final light projection, wherein:

the final light projection when the light projector is in the first mode is the distribution of focused light from the diffractive optical element; and

the final light projection when the light projector is in the second mode is the emitted light from the light source diffused by the diffusion element, wherein the diffractive optical element is prevented from projecting the distribution of focused light.

24. The method of claim 22, further comprising projecting, by the diffractive element, a final light projection, wherein:

the final light projection when the light projector is in the first mode is the distribution of focused light from the diffractive optical element;

the final light projection when the light projector is in the second mode is the emitted light from the light source diffused by the diffusion element;

the diffractive optical element projects the distribution of focused light in the second mode; and the diffusion element diffuses the light in the distribution of focused light from the diffractive optical element in projecting the final light projection.

25. The method of claim 16, wherein emitting light by the light source comprises emitting infrared light.

26. The method of claim 25, further comprising receiving, by an infrared receiver, reflections of the infrared light projected by the light projector.

27. The method of claim 26, further comprising:

determining, by one or more processors, one or more depths from the received reflections when the light projector is operating in the first mode; and

performing, by the one or more processors, low light image capture from the received reflections when the light projector is operating in the second mode.

28. The method of claim 27, further comprising performing wireless communications via one or more wireless transceivers.

29. A device, comprising:

means for emitting a light along a first direction;

means for projecting, from the emitted light, a final light projection that differs between a first mode and a second mode, comprising:

means for projecting a distribution of focused light from the emitted light during the first mode; and

means for diffusing the emitted light during the second mode; and

means for switching between the first mode and the second mode by adjusting at least one from the group consisting of:

a refractive index of a refractive material located between the means for projecting the distribution of focused light and the means for diffusing the emitted light; and

a refractive index of the means for diffusing the emitted light.

30. The device of claim 29, wherein the means for switching between the first mode and the second mode comprises means for applying or removing an electricity to or from at least one from the group consisting of the refractive material and the means for diffusing the emitted light.

Description:
ADJUSTABLE LIGHT PROJECTOR FOR FLOOD ILLUMINATION AND ACTIVE DEPTH

SENSING

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] This disclosure relates generally to light projectors for active depth sensing and flood illumination, and specifically to adjusting light projections from such projectors to switch between active depth sensing and flood illumination.

BACKGROUND

[0002] For active depth sensing, a device may include a light projector to project a distribution of light, for which reflections of the distribution of light are sensed and measured to determine distances of objects in a scene. For example, a device may include a light projector that projects a distribution of infrared (IR) light (such as a distribution of IR light points) onto a scene. An active light receiver captures reflections of the IR light in capturing an image, and the device determines depths or distances of objects in the scene based on the captured reflections.

SUMMARY

[0003] This Summary is provided to introduce in a simplified form a selection of concepts that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This Summary is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to limit the scope of the claimed subject matter.

[0004] Some aspects of the present disclosure relate to a device including an adjustable light projector for active depth sensing and flood illumination. An example device includes a light projector that includes a light source to emit a light along a first direction and a diffractive element positioned in a path of the emitted light along the first direction. The diffractive element includes a diffractive optical element having a first refractive index and configured to project a distribution of focused light from the emitted light during a first mode. The diffractive element also includes a diffusion element having a second refractive index and configured to diffuse the emitted light during a second mode

[0005] Some further aspects of the present disclosure relate to a method for projecting an adjustable light projection. An example method includes emitting, by a light source of a light projector, a light along a first direction. The method also includes projecting, by a diffractive optical element of a diffractive element of the light projector, a distribution of light from the emitted light during a first mode of the light projector. The diffractive optical element has a first refractive index. The method further includes diffusing, by a diffusion element of the diffractive element, the emitted light during a second mode of the light projector. The diffusion element has a second refractive index.

[0006] Some other aspects of the present disclosure relate to a device. An example device includes means for emitting a light along a first direction. The device also includes means for projecting, from the emitted light, a final light projection that differs between a first mode and a second mode. The means for projecting the final light projection includes means for projecting a distribution of light from the emitted light during the first mode and means for diffusing the emitted light during the second mode. The light projector further includes means for switching between the first mode and the second mode by adjusting at least one of a refractive index of a refractive material between the means for projecting the distribution of light and means for diffusing the emitted light or a refractive index of the means for diffusing the emitted light.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0007] Aspects of the present disclosure are illustrated by way of example, and not by way of limitation, in the figures of the accompanying drawings and in which like reference numerals refer to similar elements.

[0008] FIG. l is a depiction of an example active depth sensing system including a light projector for projecting a distribution of light.

[0009] FIG. 2 is a depiction of an example projector of an active depth sensing system.

[0010] FIG. 3 is a depiction of another example projector of an active depth sensing system.

[0011] FIG. 4 is a depiction of an example device including an active depth sensing light projector and a flood illuminator.

[0012] FIG. 5 is a depiction of an example flood illuminator.

[0013] FIG. 6 is a block diagram of an example device including an adjustable diffraction projector.

[0014] FIG. 7A is a depiction of an example arrangement of multiple diffractive optical elements of an adjustable diffraction projector.

[0015] FIG. 7B is a depiction of another example arrangement of multiple diffractive optical elements of an adjustable diffraction projector.

[0016] FIG. 7C is a depiction of a further example arrangement of multiple diffractive optical elements of an adjustable diffraction projector. [0017] FIG. 7D is a depiction of another example arrangement of multiple diffractive optical elements of an adjustable diffraction projector.

[0018] FIG. 7E is a depiction of a further example arrangement of multiple diffractive optical elements of an adjustable diffraction projector.

[0019] FIG. 7F is a depiction of another example arrangement of multiple diffractive optical elements of an adjustable diffraction projector

[0020] FIG. 7G is a depiction of a further example arrangement of multiple diffractive optical elements of an adjustable diffraction projector.

[0021] FIG. 7H is a depiction of another example arrangement of multiple diffractive optical elements of an adjustable diffraction projector.

[0022] FIG. 71 is a depiction of a further example arrangement of multiple diffractive optical elements of an adjustable diffraction projector.

[0023] FIG. 8 is a depiction of an example diffractive element including an arrangement of two diffractive optical elements with a refractive material between the two diffractive optical elements (DOE).

[0024] FIG. 9A is a depiction of two example DOEs with a refractive material in between, where a first DOE and the refractive material have the same refractive index.

[0025] FIG. 9B is a depiction of the two example DOEs with the refractive material in between in FIG. 9A, where the second DOE and the refractive material have the same refractive index.

[0026] FIG. 9C is a depiction of two example DOEs with the refractive material in between, where the uneven surface of the second DOE is oriented away from the refractive material, and the first DOE and the refractive material have the same refractive index.

[0027] FIG. 9D is a depiction of the two example DOEs with the refractive material in between, where the uneven surface of the second DOE is oriented away from the refractive material, and the second DOE and the refractive material have the same refractive index.

[0028] FIG. 9E is a depiction of two example DOEs with the refractive material in between, where the uneven surface of the first DOE is oriented away from the refractive material, and the first DOE and the refractive material have the same refractive index.

[0029] FIG. 9F is a depiction of the two example DOEs with the refractive material in between, where the uneven surface of the first DOE is oriented away from the refractive material, and the second DOE and the refractive material have the same refractive index. [0030] FIG. 10 is a depiction of example polarization orientations including a first polarity and a second polarity ninety degrees from each other.

[0031] FIG. 11 is a depiction of example first and second distributions combined for a combined distribution.

[0032] FIG. 12 is a depiction of an example distribution and an example flood illumination combined for a projector.

[0033] FIG. 13A is a depiction of an example projector configured to apply an electricity to the liquid crystal of the diffractive element of the projector for generating a projection.

[0034] FIG. 13B is another depiction of the example projector in FIG. 13A with a different example location of the conductive material for applying electricity to the liquid crystal.

[0035] FIG. 13C is another depiction of the example projector in FIG. 13A with a different example location of the conductive material for applying electricity to the liquid crystal.

[0036] FIG. 14 is a depiction of an example projector configured to adjust the polarity of the light passing through a diffractive element of the projector for generating a projection.

[0037] FIG. 15 is a depiction of example adjustments to the polarity of the light by adjusting the polarity rotator.

[0038] FIG. 16A is a depiction of example projections based on the polarity of light passing through the diffractive element.

[0039] FIG. 16B is a depiction of further example projections based on the polarity of light passing through the diffractive element.

[0040] FIG. 17 is an illustrative flow chart depicting an example operation for adjusting the distribution of light to be projected by a projector.

[0041] FIG. 18 is a depiction of an example distribution and an example diffusion combined for a projector.

[0042] FIG. 19A is a depiction of an example orientation of a DOE and a diffusion element for a diffractive element.

[0043] FIG. 19B is a depiction of another example orientation of a DOE and a diffusion element for a diffractive element.

[0044] FIG. 19C is a depiction of another example orientation of a DOE and a diffusion element for a diffractive element.

[0045] FIG. 19D is a depiction of another example orientation of a DOE and a diffusion element for a diffractive element. [0046] FIG. 20A is a depiction of a light projector operating in a first mode for projecting a distribution of light.

[0047] FIG. 20B is a depiction of the light projector operating in a second mode for projecting a diffuse projection of light.

[0048] FIG. 21 A is a depiction of an example diffusion element in a first state and has a material disposed between two substrates.

[0049] FIG. 21B is a depiction of the example diffusion element in FIG. 21A in a second state.

[0050] FIG. 21C is a depiction of a switchable diffusion element having diffusion features on a first substrate.

[0051] FIG. 21D is a depiction of the example diffusion element in FIG. 21C in a second state.

[0052] FIG. 21E is a depiction of a switchable diffusion element having diffusion features on a second substrate.

[0053] FIG. 21F is a depiction of the example diffusion element in FIG. 21E in a second state.

[0054] FIG. 22A is another depiction of an example diffusion element in a first state and coupled to two electrical contacts.

[0055] FIG. 22B is a depiction of the example diffusion element in a second state

[0056] FIG. 23 A is a depiction of an example diffractive element with one or more electrical contacts embedded in the DOE.

[0057] FIG. 23B is a depiction of an example diffractive element with one or more electrical contacts disposed on the surface of the DOE.

[0058] FIG. 23C is a depiction of an example diffractive element with one or more electrical contacts disposed between the DOE and the diffusion element.

[0059] FIG. 23D is a depiction of an example diffractive element with one or more electrical contacts disposed on the diffusion element and located between the DOE and the diffusion element.

[0060] FIG. 24 is an illustrative flow chart depicting an example operation for adjusting a light projector between an active depth sensing mode and a flood illumination mode.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0061] Aspects of the present disclosure relate to active light projectors and flood illuminators, and include a projector configured to perform the functions of both a flood illuminator and an active depth sensing light projector. [0062] An active depth sensing system may transmit light in a predefined distribution of points

(or another suitable shape of focused light). The points of light may be projected on to a scene, and the reflections of the points of light may be received by the active depth sensing system. Depths of objects in a scene may be determined by comparing the pattern of the received light and the pattern of the transmitted light. In comparing the patterns, a portion of the predefined distribution for the transmitted light may be identified in the received light. In the present disclosure, an active depth sensing system that projects a distribution of light (such as a distribution of light points or other shapes) is referred to as a structured light system (with a structured light projector).

[0063] The light distribution emitted by a structured light projector does not change. Denser distributions of light (such as additional light points or more instances of focused light in an area than for sparser distributions of light) may result in a higher resolution of a depth map or a greater number of depths that may be determined. However, the intensity of individual light points are lower for denser distributions than for sparser distributions where the overall intensity is similar between the distribution. As a result, interference may cause identifying reflections of a denser distribution of light more difficult than for sparser distributions of light. For example, a structured light projector may project IR light (such as near infrared (NIR) light) with a 905 nm or 940 nm wavelength (or other suitable wavelength). A structured light receiver may receive reflections of the IR light as well as sunlight and other ambient light. Ambient light may cause interference of the IR light points. As a result, brightly lit scenes (such as outdoor scenes in daylight) may cause more interference than darker scenes (such as indoor scenes or nighttime) because of the additional ambient light being captured by the structured light receiver.

[0064] A structured light system may overcome interference by increasing the light intensity.

For example, the structured light projector may use more power to increase the intensity of each light point. However, to ensure eye safety and compliance with any regulations on light transmission, the overall intensity of light in an area of the projection may be restricted. In this manner, the number of points or instances of light in the area affects the maximum intensity of each point or instance of light. As a result, each light point in a sparser distribution may have a higher maximum intensity than each light point in a denser distribution. Thus, a sparser distribution may be more suitable for daylight scenes (with more interference), and a denser distribution may be more suitable for indoor or nighttime scenes (with less interference).

[0065] However, many devices use a structured light system in different types of lighting (with different amounts of interference). For example, a smartphone may include an active depth sensing system for face identification, and the smartphone may be used indoors and outdoors. If the light distribution for the structured light projector is fixed, the device would need to include more than one structured light projector to project distributions of light at different densities (and thus different intensities for each of the light instances in the light distributions). In some aspects of the present disclosure, a light projector may be configured to adjust the density of the light distribution.

[0066] Many devices also include a flood illuminator. A flood illuminator may project a diffuse light onto a scene so that enough light exists in the scene for an image sensor to capture one or more images of the scene. In one example, a device that performs face identification may need to first determine if a face to be identified exists in the scene. The device may include a flood illuminator to project IR light onto a scene so that an IR sensor may capture the scene and the device may determine from the capture if a face exists in the scene. If a face is determined to exist in the scene, the device may then use an active depth sensing system for face identification. If a light projector has a fixed distribution or refraction of light, a device including a flood illuminator and a structured light projector therefore is required to include at least two light projectors (such as two IR projectors). In some aspects of the present disclosure, a light projector may be adjustable to project diffuse light for flood illumination (such as for face detection) or project a distribution of light for active depth sensing (such as for face identification).

[0067] If a light projector is configured to adjust the density of the structured light projection or is configured to switch between flood illumination and active depth sensing, a device may include fewer light projectors, thus saving device space and requiring fewer device components.

[0068] In the following description, numerous specific details are set forth, such as examples of specific components, circuits, and processes to provide a thorough understanding of the present disclosure. The term“coupled” as used herein means connected directly to or connected through one or more intervening components or circuits. Also, in the following description and for purposes of explanation, specific nomenclature is set forth to provide a thorough understanding of the present disclosure. However, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that these specific details may not be required to practice the teachings disclosed herein. In other instances, well-known circuits and devices are shown in block diagram form to avoid obscuring teachings of the present disclosure. Some portions of the detailed descriptions which follow are presented in terms of procedures, logic blocks, processes, and other symbolic representations of operations on data bits within a computer memory. In the present disclosure, a procedure, logic block, process, or the like, is conceived to be a self-consistent sequence of steps or instructions leading to a desired result. The steps are those requiring physical manipulations of physical quantities. Usually, although not necessarily, these quantities take the form of electrical or magnetic signals capable of being stored, transferred, combined, compared, and otherwise manipulated in a computer system.

[0069] It should be borne in mind, however, that all of these and similar terms are to be associated with the appropriate physical quantities and are merely convenient labels applied to these quantities. Unless specifically stated otherwise as apparent from the following discussions, it is appreciated that throughout the present application, discussions utilizing the terms such as“accessing,” “receiving,”“sending,”“using,”“selecting,” determining,”“normalizing,”“multiplying,”“avera ging,” “monitoring,”“comparing,”“applying,”“updating, ”“measuring,”“deriving,”“settling” or the like, refer to the actions and processes of a computer system, or similar electronic computing device, that manipulates and transforms data represented as physical (electronic) quantities within the computer system’s registers and memories into other data similarly represented as physical quantities within the computer system memories or registers or other such information storage, transmission or display devices.

[0070] In the figures, a single block may be described as performing a function or functions; however, in actual practice, the function or functions performed by that block may be performed in a single component or across multiple components, and/or may be performed using hardware, using software, or using a combination of hardware and software. To clearly illustrate this interchangeability of hardware and software, various illustrative components, blocks, modules, circuits, and steps are described below generally in terms of their functionality. Whether such functionality is implemented as hardware or software depends upon the particular application and design constraints imposed on the overall system. Skilled artisans may implement the described functionality in varying ways for each particular application, but such implementation decisions should not be interpreted as causing a departure from the scope of the present disclosure. Also, the example devices may include components other than those shown, including well-known components such as a processor, memory and the like.

[0071] Aspects of the present disclosure are applicable to any suitable electronic device (such as security systems, smartphones, tablets, laptop computers, vehicles, drones, or other devices) including or coupled to one or more active depth sensing systems. While described below with respect to a device having or coupled to one light projector, aspects of the present disclosure are applicable to devices having any number of light projectors, and are therefore not limited to specific devices.

[0072] The term“device” is not limited to one or a specific number of physical objects (such as one smartphone, one controller, one processing system and so on). As used herein, a device may be any electronic device with one or more parts that may implement at least some portions of this disclosure. While the below description and examples use the term“device” to describe various aspects of this disclosure, the term“device” is not limited to a specific configuration, type, or number of objects. Additionally, the term“system” is not limited to multiple components or specific embodiments. For example, a system may be implemented on one or more printed circuit boards or other substrates, and may have movable or static components. While the below description and examples use the term “system” to describe various aspects of this disclosure, the term“system” is not limited to a specific configuration, type, or number of objects. [0073] FIG. 1 is a depiction of an example active depth sensing system 100. The active depth sensing system 100 (which herein also may be called a structured light system) may be used to generate a depth map (not pictured) of a scene 106. For example, the scene 106 may include a face, and the active depth sensing system 100 may be used for identifying or authenticating the face. The active depth sensing system 100 may include a projector 102 and a receiver 108. The projector 102 may be referred to as a“transmitter,”“projector,”“emitter,” and so on, and should not be limited to a specific transmission component. Throughout the following disclosure, the terms projector and transmitter may be used interchangeably. The receiver 108 may be referred to as a“detector,”“sensor,”“sensing element,”“photodetector,” and so on, and should not be limited to a specific receiving component.

[0074] While the disclosure refers to the distribution as a light distribution, any suitable wireless signals at other frequencies may be used (such as radio frequency waves, sound waves, etc.). Further, while the disclosure refers to the distribution as including a plurality of light points, the light may be focused into any suitable size and dimensions. For example, the light may be projected in lines, squares, or any other suitable dimension. In addition, the disclosure may refer to the distribution as a codeword distribution, where a defined portion of the distribution (such as a predefined patch of light points) is referred to as a codeword. If the distribution of the light points is known, the codewords of the distribution may be known. However, the distribution may be organized in any way, and the present disclosure should not be limited to a specific type of distribution or type of wireless signal.

[0075] The transmitter 102 may be configured to project or transmit a distribution 104 of light points onto the scene 106. The white circles in the distribution 104 may indicate where no light is projected for a possible point location, and the black circles in the distribution 104 may indicate where light is projected for a possible point location. In some example implementations, the transmitter 102 may include one or more light sources 124 (such as one or more lasers), a lens 126, and a light modulator 128. The transmitter 102 also may include an aperture 122 from which the transmitted light escapes the transmitter 102. In some implementations, the transmitter 102 may further include a diffractive optical element (DOE) to diffract the emissions from one or more light sources 124 into additional emissions. In some aspects, the light modulator 128 (to adjust the intensity of the emission) may comprise a DOE. In projecting the distribution 104 of light points onto the scene 106, the transmitter 102 may transmit one or more lasers from the light source 124 through the lens 126 (and/or through a DOE or light modulator 128) and onto the scene 106. The transmitter 102 may be positioned on the same reference plane as the receiver 108, and the transmitter 102 and the receiver 108 may be separated by a distance called the baseline (112).

[0076] In some example implementations, the light projected by the transmitter 102 may be IR light. IR light may include portions of the visible light spectrum and/or portions of the light spectrum that is not visible to the naked eye. In one example, IR light may include near infrared (NIR) light, which may or may not include light within the visible light spectrum, and/or IR light (such as far infrared (FIR) light) which is outside the visible light spectrum. The term IR light should not be limited to light having a specific wavelength in or near the wavelength range of IR light. Further, IR light is provided as an example emission from the transmitter. In the following description, other suitable wavelengths of light may be used. For example, light in portions of the visible light spectrum outside the IR light wavelength range or ultraviolet light. Alternatively, other signals with different wavelengths may be used, such as microwaves, radio frequency signals, and other suitable signals.

[0077] The scene 106 may include objects at different depths from the structured light system

(such as from the transmitter 102 and the receiver 108). For example, objects 106A and 106B in the scene 106 may be at different depths. The receiver 108 may be configured to receive, from the scene 106, reflections 110 of the transmitted distribution 104 of light points. To receive the reflections 110, the receiver 108 may capture an image. When capturing the image, the receiver 108 may receive the reflections 110, as well as (i) other reflections of the distribution 104 of light points from other portions of the scene 106 at different depths and (ii) ambient light. Noise may also exist in the captured image.

[0078] In some example implementations, the receiver 108 may include a lens 130 to focus or direct the received light (including the reflections 110 from the objects 106A and 106B) on to the sensor 132 of the receiver 108. The receiver 108 also may include an aperture 120. Assuming for the example that only the reflections 110 are received, depths of the objects 106A and 106B may be determined based on the baseline 112, displacement and distortion of the light distribution 104 (such as in codewords) in the reflections 110, and intensities of the reflections 110. For example, the distance 134 along the sensor 132 from location 116 to the center 114 may be used in determining a depth of the object 106B in the scene 106. Similarly, the distance 136 along the sensor 132 from location 118 to the center 114 may be used in determining a depth of the object 106A in the scene 106. The distance along the sensor 132 may be measured in terms of number of pixels of the sensor 132 or a distance (such as millimeters).

[0079] In some example implementations, the sensor 132 may include an array of photodiodes

(such as avalanche photodiodes) for capturing an image. To capture the image, each photodiode in the array may capture the light that hits the photodiode and may provide a value indicating the intensity of the light (a capture value). The image therefore may be the capture values provided by the array of photodiodes.

[0080] In addition or alternative to the sensor 132 including an array of photodiodes, the sensor

132 may include a complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) sensor. To capture the image by a photosensitive CMOS sensor, each pixel of the sensor may capture the light that hits the pixel and may provide a value indicating the intensity of the light. In some example implementations, an array of photodiodes may be coupled to the CMOS sensor. In this manner, the electrical impulses generated by the array of photodiodes may trigger the corresponding pixels of the CMOS sensor to provide capture values.

[0081] The sensor 132 may include at least a number of pixels equal to the number of possible light points in the distribution 104. For example, the array of photodiodes or the CMOS sensor may include a number of photodiodes or a number of pixels, respectively, corresponding to the number of possible light points in the distribution 104. The sensor 132 logically may be divided into groups of pixels or photodiodes (such as 4x4 groups) that correspond to a size of a bit of a codeword. The group of pixels or photodiodes also may be referred to as a bit, and the portion of the captured image from a bit of the sensor 132 also may be referred to as a bit. In some example implementations, the sensor 132 may include the same number of bits as the distribution 104.

[0082] If the light source 124 transmits IR light (such as NIR light at a wavelength of, e.g., 940 nm), the sensor 132 may be an IR sensor to receive the reflections of the NIR light. The sensor 132 also may be configured to capture an image using a flood illuminator (not illustrated).

[0083] As illustrated, the distance 134 (corresponding to the reflections 110 from the object

106B) is less than the distance 136 (corresponding to the reflections 110 from the object 106A). Using triangulation based on the baseline 112 and the distances 134 and 136, the differing depths of objects 106 A and 106B in the scene 106 may be determined in generating a depth map of the scene 106.

Determining the depths may further include determining a displacement or a distortion of the distribution 104 in the reflections 110.

[0084] Although a number of separate components are illustrated in FIG. 1, one or more of the components may be implemented together or include additional functionality. All described components may not be required for an active depth sensing system 100, or the functionality of components may be separated into separate components. Additional components not illustrated also may exist. For example, the receiver 108 may include a bandpass filter to allow signals having a determined range of wavelengths to pass onto the sensor 132 (thus filtering out signals with a wavelength outside of the range). In this manner, some incidental signals (such as ambient light) may be prevented from interfering with the captures by the sensor 132. The range of the bandpass filter may be centered at the transmission wavelength for the transmitter 102. For example, if the transmitter 102 is configured to transmit NIR light with a wavelength of 940 nm, the receiver 108 may include a bandpass filter configured to allow NIR light having wavelengths within a range of, e.g., 920 nm to 960 nm. Therefore, the examples described regarding FIG. 1 is for illustrative purposes, and the present disclosure should not be limited to the example active depth sensing system 100.

[0085] For a light projector (such as the transmitter 102), the light source may be any suitable light source. In some example implementations, the light source 124 may include one or more distributed feedback (DFB) lasers. In some other example implementations, the light source 124 may include one or more vertical -cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs).

[0086] A DOE is a material situated in the projection path of the light from the light source.

The DOE may be configured to split a light point into multiple light points. For example, the material of the DOE may be a translucent or a transparent polymer with a known refractive index. The surface of the DOE may include peaks and valleys (varying the depth of the DOE) so that a light point splits into multiple light points when the light passes through the DOE. For example, the DOE may be configured to receive one or more lights points from one or more lasers and proj ect an intended distribution with a greater number of light points than emitted by the one or more lasers. While the Figures may illustrate the depth of a DOE changing along only one axis of the DOE, the Figures are only to assist in describing aspects of the disclosure. The peaks and valleys of the surface of the DOE may be located at any portion of the surface of the DOE and cause any suitable change in the depth of portions of the DOE, and the present disclosure should not be limited to a specific surface configuration for a DOE.

[0087] If the light source 124 includes an array of lasers (such as a VCSEL array), a portion of the distribution of light points may be projected by the array. A DOE may be used to replicate the portion in projecting the distribution of light points. For example, the DOE may split the projection from the array into multiple instances, and the pattern of the projection may be a repetition of the projection from the array. In some example implementations, the DOE may be configured to repeat the projection vertically, horizontally, or at an angle between vertical and horizontal relative to the projection. The repeated instances may be overlapping, non-overlapping, or any suitable configuration. While the examples describe a DOE configured to split the projection from the array and stack the instances above and below one another, the present disclosure should not be limited to a specific type of DOE configuration and repetition of the projection.

[0088] FIG. 2 is a depiction of an example projector 200 of an active depth sensing system. The projector 200 may be an example implementation of the transmitter 102 in FIG. 1. The example projector 200 may include a laser 202 that is configured to emit a light 204 toward a lens 206. The lens 206 may contain one or more lens elements to direct the light 204, and the lens 206 is shown only for illustrative purposes. An example laser 202 is a DFB laser, which may emit polarized light toward the lens 206. Another example laser 202 is a VCSEL, which may emit unpolarized light 204 toward the lens 206. The lens 206 may direct the light 204 toward the DOE 208. The DOE 208 may have a first refractive index, and a surface 210 of the DOE 208 may be configured for the DOE 208 to project the distribution of light points 212 from the light 204. Some example implementations of fabricating a DOE (such as DOE 208) include depositing a polymer layer or dielectric layer on a glass (or otherwise transparent) substrate. The deposited layer may have a desired refractive index and may be deposited with different depths, thus providing the desired characteristics for the DOE.

[0089] FIG. 3 is a depiction of another example projector 300 of an active depth sensing system.

The projector 300 may be similar to the projector 200 in FIG. 2, except the projector 300 includes a plurality of lasers (such as a laser array 302) instead of one laser 202. The laser array 302 may emit a plurality of light points 304. The light points 304 may be in a pattern, with each point indicating a light emitted by one of the lasers in the laser array 302. The lens 306 may direct the light points 304 to the DOE 308 to project the distribution of light points 304 onto the scene. The DOE 308 may have a first refractive index, and the surface 310 of the DOE 308 may be configured for the DOE 308 to replicate the light points 304 into multiple instances of light points 314. The distribution of light points 312 therefore may include the multiple instances of light points 314. Each instance may be of the pattern of light points 304.

[0090] The DOE 308 may be configured to split the light points 304 into instances 314 and vertically stack the instances 314 in projecting the distribution 312. For example, the DOE 308 may include horizontal ridges for splitting the light points 304 vertically. While the example projector 300 is illustrated as vertically splitting and stacking the light points 304, the DOE 308 may be configured to divide the light points 304 and arrange the instances in any suitable manner. For example, the instances may be overlapping or spaced apart, stacked horizontally, tiled, or arranged in another suitable shape or order. The present disclosure should not be limited to a specific configuration for the DOE 308.

[0091] Referring to FIG. 2 and FIG. 3, the distribution 212 and the distribution 312 are unchanging for a fixed DOE 208 and DOE 308, respectively. However, the DOE 208 in FIG. 2 or the DOE 308 in FIG. 3 may be replaced with a configurable diffractive element that may be configured to adjust the distribution 212 or the distribution 312, respectively. For example, a configurable diffractive element may be configured to decrease or increase the number of light points in the distribution.

[0092] In addition to active depth sensing, a device may be configured to provide flood illumination. FIG. 4 is a depiction of an example device 400 including an active depth sensing light projector 402 and a flood illuminator 404. The device 400 further may include an IR sensor 406 to capture an image based on the reflections of light from the active depth sensing light projector 402 or the flood illuminator 404 (with the projector 402 and the illuminator 404 projecting IR light). The structured light projector 402 and the IR sensor 406 may be separated by a baseline 408. An example device 400 may be a smartphone, with an earpiece 410 and a microphone 412 for conducting phone calls or other wireless communications. A smartphone also may include a display 414 with or without a notch including the projectors 402, illuminator 404, and the IR sensor 406.

[0093] A flood illuminator 404 may project a diffuse IR light onto a scene for the IR sensor 406 to capture an image based on reflections of the diffuse IR light. FIG. 5 is a depiction of an example flood illuminator 500. The flood illuminator 500 may be an example implementation of the flood illuminator 404 in FIG. 4. The flood illuminator 500 may include a Laser 502 (such as a DFB laser or a VCSEL) configured to emit light 504 toward a lens 506. The lens 506 may direct the light 504 to a diffusion element 508. The diffusion element 508 may have a refractive index and include a surface 510 configured to adjust the light passing through the diffusion element 508 such that the light projected from the diffusion element 508 is a diffuse light 512. An example diffusion element 508 is a Fresnel lens. Flowever, any suitable diffusion element 508 may be used for diffusing the light 504.

[0094] Referring back to FIG 4, a device 400 including an active depth sensing light projector

402 and a flood illuminator 404 would require at least two projectors. In some example

implementations, the diffusion element 508 in FIG. 5 or the DOE 208 in FIG. 2 may be replaced with a configurable element so that a projector may be configured to project a diffuse light (when operating as a flood illuminator) and to project a distribution of light (when operating as a light projector for active depth sensing). In this manner, a device may include one projector for both flood illumination and active depth sensing. For example, the projector 402 of the device 400 in FIG. 4 may be configured to perform flood illumination and light projection for active depth sensing, and the device 400 therefore may not include the separate flood illuminator 404.

[0095] If a device includes a projector that is configurable to adjust the density of a light distribution for different operating modes, and/or if the device includes a projector that is configurable to switch between flood illumination and light projection for active depth sensing for different operating modes, the device may control configuring and operating the projector for the different operating modes. FIG. 6 is a block diagram of an example device 600 for configuring a transmitter 601 for active depth sensing (which may project different density distributions of light) and/or flood illumination. In some other examples, a transmitter may be separate from and coupled to the device 600.

[0096] The example device 600 may include or be coupled to a transmitter 601 and a receiver

602 separated from the transmitter 601 by a baseline 603. The receiver 602 may be an IR sensor configured to capture images, and the transmitter 601 may be a projector configured to project a distribution of light and/or a diffuse light. The density of the distribution of light from the transmitter 601 may be adjustable.

[0097] The example device 600 also may include a processor 604, a memory 606 storing instructions 608, and a light controller 610 (which may include one or more signal processors 612). The device 600 may optionally include (or be coupled to) a display 614 and a number of input/output (EO) components 616. The device 600 may include additional features or components not shown. For example, a wireless interface, which may include a number of transceivers and a baseband processor, may be included for a wireless communication device to perform wireless communications. In another example, the device 600 may include one or more cameras (such as a contact image sensor (CIS) camera or other suitable camera for capturing images using visible light). The transmitter 601 and the receiver 602 may be part of an active depth sensing system (such as the system 100 in FIG. 1) controlled by the light controller 610 and/or the processor 604. The transmitter 601 and the receiver 602 additionally may be a flood illumination and capture system. The device 600 may include or be coupled to additional light projectors (or flood illuminators) or may include a different configuration for the light projectors. The device 600 also may include or be coupled to additional receivers (not shown) for capturing multiple images of a scene. The disclosure should not be limited to any specific examples or illustrations, including the example device 600.

[0098] The memory 606 may be a non-transient or non-transitory computer readable medium storing computer-executable instructions 608 to perform all or a portion of one or more operations described in this disclosure. If the light distribution projected by the transmitter 601 is divided into codewords, the memory 606 optionally may store a library of codewords 609 for the codeword distribution of light. The library of codewords 609 may indicate what codewords exist in the distribution and the relative location between the codewords in the distribution. The device 600 also may include a power supply 618, which may be coupled to or integrated into the device 600.

[0099] The processor 604 may be one or more suitable processors capable of executing scripts or instructions of one or more software programs (such as instructions 608 stored within the memory 606). In some aspects, the processor 604 may be one or more general purpose processors that execute instructions 608 to cause the device 600 to perform any number of functions or operations. In additional or alternative aspects, the processor 604 may include integrated circuits or other hardware to perform functions or operations without the use of software. While shown to be coupled to each other via the processor 604 in the example of FIG. 6, the processor 604, the memory 606, the light controller 610, the optional display 614, and the optional I/O components 616 may be coupled to one another in various arrangements. For example, the processor 604, the memory 606, the light controller 610, the optional display 614, and/or the optional I/O components 616 may be coupled to each other via one or more local buses (not shown for simplicity).

[00100] The display 614 may be any suitable display or screen allowing for user interaction and/or to present items (such as a depth map, a preview image of the scene, a lock screen, etc.) for viewing by a user. In some aspects, the display 614 may be a touch-sensitive display. The I/O components 616 may be or include any suitable mechanism, interface, or device to receive input (such as commands) from the user and to provide output to the user. For example, the I/O components 616 may include (but are not limited to) a graphical user interface, keyboard, mouse, microphone and speakers, squeezable bezel or border of the device 600, physical buttons located on device 600, and so on. The display 614 and/or the I/O components 616 may provide a preview image or depth map of the scene to a user and/or receive a user input for adjusting one or more settings of the device 600 (such as for adjusting the density of the distribution projected by the transmitter 601, switching the projection from diffuse light to a distribution of light points by the transmitter 601, etc.).

[00101] The light controller 610 may include a signal processor 612, which may be one or more processors to configure the transmitter 601 and process images captured by the receiver 602. In some aspects, the signal processor 612 may execute instructions from a memory (such as instructions 608 from the memory 606 or instructions stored in a separate memory coupled to the signal processor 612). In other aspects, the signal processor 612 may include specific hardware for operation. The signal processor 612 may alternatively or additionally include a combination of specific hardware and the ability to execute software instructions. While the following examples may be described in relation to the device 600, any suitable device or configuration of device components may be used, and the present disclosure should not be limited by a specific device configuration.

[00102] For the projector (such as the transmitter 601 in FIG. 6), the diffractive element may be configured so that the light projection is adjustable. To be configurable to adjust the light projection, the diffractive element may include a plurality of DOEs. In some example implementations, a diffusion element (for flood illumination) may be one of the DOEs. In some other example implementations, two or more DOEs may cause the final light projection to have different light distributions for active depth sensing. In some examples, the multiple DOEs are positionally fixed (do not move) within the projector or relative to the light source, and other projector components may be adjusted when adjusting the light projection. While the following examples describe two DOEs for the projector, any number of DOEs may be used, and the present disclosure should not be limited to a projector including two DOEs.

[00103] FIG. 7A is a depiction of an example arrangement 700 of two DOEs for a projector. The DOEs may include a DOE for distributed light projection and a diffusion element / DOE for flood illumination. The DOEs may be aligned in the projection path of light from a light source of the projector, and the uneven surfaces of the DOEs (indicated by the jagged lines) may be oriented in the same direction (as illustrated). FIG. 7B is a depiction of another example arrangement 710 of two DOEs for a projector. The arrangement 710 is similar to the arrangement 700 in FIG. 7A, except that the uneven surfaces of the DOEs may be oriented toward each other.

[00104] FIG. 7C is a depiction of a further example arrangement 720 of two DOEs for a projector. The DOEs may include two DOEs for different distributions of light projection (for active depth sensing). The uneven surfaces of the DOEs may be the same. Alternatively, the uneven surfaces of the DOEs may be different. In one example, the uneven surfaces of the DOEs may be the same, except the surface of one DOE may be spatially shifted so that the similar surfaces do not align on the projection path of the light. In another example, the uneven surfaces may be different (such as a different number of peaks and valleys and thus a differing number and/or size of depths of the DOEs). Similar to FIG. 7A, the uneven surfaces of the DOEs may be oriented in the same direction. FIG. 7D is a depiction of another example arrangement 730 of two DOEs for a projector. The arrangement 730 is similar to the arrangement 720 in FIG. 7C, except that the uneven surfaces of the DOEs may be oriented toward each other.

[00105] Referring back to FIG. 7A and FIG. 7B, the diffusion element is illustrated as after a DOE for distributed light projection (with light passing from left to right through the elements). In some alternative implementations, the diffusion element may be before the distributed light projection DOE along the light path. FIG. 7E is a depiction of another example arrangement 740 of two DOEs for a projector. The arrangement 740 is similar to the arrangement 700 in FIG. 7 A, except that the order of the DOEs is switched. FIG. 7F is a depiction of a further example arrangement 750 of two DOEs for a projector. The arrangement 750 is similar to the arrangement 710 in FIG. 7B, except that the order of the DOEs is switched.

[00106] For FIGS. 7A - 7F, the uneven surface of the first DOE (e.g., the left DOE for a direction of the light from left to right) is oriented toward the subsequent (right) DOE. In some other example implementations, the uneven surface of the first DOE may be oriented toward the light source (away from the subsequent DOE). FIG. 7G - FIG. 71 are depictions of further example arrangements 760 - 780 of two DOEs for a projector. The arrangements 760, 770, and 780 in FIG. 7G - FIG. 71 are similar to the arrangements 710, 730, and 750 in FIG. 7B, FIG. 7D, and FIG. 7F, respectively, except that the first DOE is oriented in the opposite direction (with the uneven surface oriented toward a light source instead of the other DOE).

[00107] For multiple DOEs in a projector, the refractive index of each DOE may be different from one another. For example, the first DOE in FIGS. 7A - 71 may have a first refractive index, and the second DOE may have a second refractive index different than the first refractive index. For example, the refractive indexes may be different if they are significantly different (e.g., the difference is greater than a threshold). In this manner, the difference in refraction between the DOEs may be perceptible or substantial for operating purposes. In some example implementations, DOEs may be spaced apart from each other. While the following examples describe two DOEs having the uneven surfaces oriented toward each other, other orientations of the DOEs may be used (such as any of the orientations in FIGS. 7A - 71), and the present disclosure should not be limited to the following examples in orienting the DOEs.

[00108] The space between the two DOEs may be filled with a transparent or translucent material having different refractive indexes than the two DOEs. For example, the differences between the refractive index for the material and the two DOEs are greater than a threshold (and the differences may be perceptible or substantial for operating purposes). In some example implementations, the refractive index may be switchable for the material. Additionally or alternatively, the refractive index for the material may differ for different polarities of light passing through the material. [00109] FIG. 8 is a depiction of a diffractive element 800 including two DOEs 802 and 804 with a refractive material 806 in between. The DOEs 802 and 804 may be spaced apart by spacers 808. Alternatively, the refractive material 806 may be sufficient to separate the DOEs 802 and 804 (such as having a sufficient structure or inelasticity). In some example implementations, the refractive material 806 may have an average refractive index different (e.g., the differences being greater than a threshold) than the refractive indexes for the DOEs 802 and 804. If the refractive indexes are different for the first DOE 802, the second DOE 804, and the refractive material 806 (e.g., the differences being greater than a threshold), light passing through the DOEs 802 and 804 and the refractive material 806 may be affected by both DOEs 802 and 804. For example, if the first DOE 802 splits a light from a laser into a first distribution of light points, the first distribution of light points may pass through the refractive material 806 to the second DOE 804. If the second DOE 804 splits a light into a second distribution of light points, each light point of the first distribution of light points may be split into a separate second distribution of light points. In this manner, the number of light points of the first distribution from the first DOE 802 may be increased by the second DOE 804.

[00110] When a light point is divided into multiple light points, the energy is divided among the multiple light points. As a result, the intensity of each of the resulting light points is less than the intensity of the original light point. In this manner, the distribution of, e.g., points of light may be denser without the intensity of the light for a portion of the distribution increasing (thus allowing an overall maximum intensity of the projected light to remain below an overall maximum intensity while increasing the density of light points for the projected light).

[00111] If the refractive index of the refractive material 806 is the same as a first refractive index of the first DOE 802 or a second refractive index of the second DOE 804, light may not be affected by the DOE with the same refractive index as the refractive material 806. Same refractive indexes may be similar refractive indexes, such as the difference between the refractive indexes being less than a threshold. For example, refractive indexes may be the same for two refractive indexes whose difference is less than the threshold and different for two refractive indexes whose difference is greater than the threshold. The following description uses the terms“different,”“same,” and“similar.” However, “different” may be a difference greater than an absolute difference (e.g., the differences being greater than a determined threshold), and“same” or“similar” may not be absolutely the same (e.g., the differences may be less than a determined threshold or the differences are not perceptible for operation of the device). The present disclosure should not be limited to a specific difference or similarity through use of the terms.

[00112] FIG. 9A is a depiction 900 of two DOEs 902 and 904 with a refractive material 906 in between. The refractive index of the first DOE 902 and the refractive index of the refractive material 906 may be the same (e.g., the differences being less than a threshold). In this manner, the surface 908 may seem to be non-existent to light passing through the first DOE 902 and the refractive material 906. As a result, the distribution of light passing through the diffractive element is only affected by the second DOE 904 with the surface 910. FIG. 9B is a depiction 950 of the two DOEs 902 and 904 with the refractive material 906 in between. The refractive index of the second DOE 904 and the refractive index of the material 906 may be the same (e.g., the differences being less than a threshold). In this manner, the surface 910 may seem to be non-existent to light passing through the material 906 and the second DOE 904. As a result, the distribution of light passing through the diffractive element is only affected by the first DOE 904 with the surface 908.

[00113] In some other example orientations for the DOE 902 and the DOE 904 (which either may be for projecting a distribution of light for active depth sensing or for flood illumination), the uneven surfaces 908 and 910 may be oriented in the same direction. FIG. 9C is a depiction 960 of two DOEs 902 and 904 with the material 906 in between and the uneven surfaces 908 and 910 oriented away from a light source (with the light travelling from left to right). The refractive index of the first DOE 902 and the refractive index of the refractive material 906 may be the same (e.g., the differences being less than a threshold). In this manner, the surface 908 may seem to be non-existent to light passing through the first DOE 902 and the material 906. As a result, the light is only affected by the second DOE 904 with the surface 910. FIG. 9D is a depiction 970 of the two DOEs 902 and 904 with the material 906 in between and the uneven surfaces 908 and 910 oriented away from a light source (with the light travelling from left to right). The refractive index of the first DOE 902 and the refractive index of the refractive material 906 are different. The refractive index of the second DOE 904 and the refractive index of the refractive material 906 may be the same or different. In this manner, both surfaces 908 and 910 may affect the distribution of light passing through the diffractive element.

[00114] FIG. 9E is a depiction 980 of two DOEs 902 and 904 with the material 906 in between and the uneven surfaces 908 and 910 oriented toward a light source (with the light travelling from left to right). The refractive index of the second DOE 904 and the refractive index of the refractive material 906 are different (e.g., the differences being greater than a threshold). The refractive index of the first DOE 902 and the refractive index of the refractive material 906 may be different (e g , the differences being greater than a threshold). In this manner, both surfaces 908 and 910 may affect the distribution of light passing through the diffractive element. FIG. 9F is a depiction 990 of the two DOEs 902 and 904 with the material 906 in between and the uneven surfaces 908 and 910 oriented away from a light source. The refractive index of the second DOE 904 and the refractive index of the material 906 may be the same. In this manner, the surface 910 may seem to be non-existent to light passing through the material 906 and the second DOE 904. As a result, the distribution of light passing through the diffractive element is only affected by the first DOE 904 with the surface 908. Other suitable arrangements and orientations of two or more DOEs may be used, and the present disclosure should not be limited to the examples in FIGS. 9A - 9F.

[00115] In some example implementations, the projector may be configured to adjust the refractive index of the refractive material with respect to the light passing through the diffractive element. In this manner, the refractive index of the refractive material 906 may appear to be the same as one of the DOEs 902 or 904 in some instances or operating modes and different than the DOE 902 or 904 in other instances or operating modes. Through adjusting the refractive index of the refractive material 906, the projector may be configured to switch between generate light distributions from each of the DOEs, or the projector may be configured between using one DOE and using two DOEs to generate the light distribution.

[00116] In some example implementations, the refractive index of the refractive material may be based on the polarity of the light passing through the material. For example, a light with a first polarity may be associated with a first refractive index while a light with a second polarity may be associated with a second refractive index for the refractive material 906. In some example implementations, the material may be a birefringent material, with the two refractive indexes being the refractive indexes of the two DOEs on either side of the material. A first refractive index of the material may be for polarized light with light waves in a first linear direction. A second refractive index of the material may be for polarized light with light waves in a second linear direction 90 degrees to the first linear direction.

[00117] FIG. 10 is a depiction 1000 of an example waveform for a first polarity 1004 and an example waveform for a second polarity 1006 ninety degrees to the first polarity 1004 for light travelling in direction 1002. The material having a first refractive index for the first polarity 1004 may alter polarized light with the first polarity 1004 passing through the material based on the first refractive index. The material having a second refractive index for the second polarity 1006 may alter polarized light with the second polarity 1006 passing through the material based on the second refractive index.

[00118] Unpolarized light travelling along direction 1002 includes light with waveforms in any plane on the direction 1002. For example, a portion of the unpolarized light has a first polarity 1004, another portion of the unpolarized light has a second polarity 1006, and other portions of the unpolarized light have polarities between the first polarity 1004 and the second polarity 1006. Each of the portions of light can be modeled as including a first energy with a first polarity 1004 and including a second energy with a second polarity 1006. For example, light with a polarity 45 degrees to the first polarity 1004 and the second polarity 1006 may be modeled as having half of its energy with the first polarity 1004 and having the other half of its energy with the second polarity 1006. Other portions of the unpolarized light may be modeled similarly. For a material with the first and second refractive indexes based on the polarity of the light, the first energy of the light may be altered based on the first refractive index, and the second energy of the light may be altered based on the second refractive index.

[00119] The DOE on either side of the birefringent material also may have a refractive index that is based on the polarity of the light passing through the DOE. For example, referring back to FIGS. 9A and 9B, the first DOE 902 may have a refractive index that is identical to the first refractive index of the birefringent material 906 for light of a first polarity 1004 (FIG. 10), and the second DOE 904 may have a refractive index that is identical to the second refractive index of the birefringent material 906 for light of a second polarity 1006 (FIG. 10). The DOEs 902 and 904 may not affect or alter light with a polarity associated with the refractive index of the material 906 that is identical to the refractive index of the respective DOE 902 or 904. In this manner, if light passing through the elements 902 - 906 includes a first energy with a first polarity 1004 and a second energy with a second polarity 1006, the first energy of the light may be affected or altered based on the surface 910 of the second DOE 904 (similar to FIG. 9A, with the first DOE 902 appearing as invisible for the first energy of the light). Similarly, the second energy of the light may be affected or altered based on the surface 908 of the first DOE 902 (similar to FIG. 9B, with the second DOE 904 appearing as invisible for the second energy of the light).

[00120] If the first DOE 902 distributes (or replicates) light from a light source (such as a laser or a laser array) into a first distribution of light points, the second energy of the light is divided into the light points of the first distribution. If the second DOE 904 distributes (or replicates) light from a light source (such as a laser or a laser array) into a second distribution of light points, the first energy of the light is divided into the light points of the second distribution. The first distribution and the second distribution may be interleaved or otherwise combined (such as without any points between the distributions overlapping) to generate the final distribution for the projector. While the examples use the first polarity 1004 and the second polarity 1006 in FIG. 10, any perpendicular polarities along a direction may be used, and the example polarities are provided for ease of explanation The present disclosure should not be limited to specific directions for the polarities regarding the refractive indexes.

[00121] Unpolarized light (or polarized light 45 degrees to the first polarity 1004 and the second polarity 1006) can be modeled as having half of its energy with the first polarity 1004 and having the other half of its energy with the second polarity 1006. Unpolarized light (or 45 degree polarized light) passing through the three elements 902 - 906 has half of its energy divided into the first distribution of light points (based on the first DOE 902) and has the other half of its energy divided into the second distribution of light points (based on the second DOE 904) based on the birefringent properties of the material 906. If the first distribution and the second distribution include the same number of light points, each light point of the final distribution may have the same energy as any other light point of the final distribution. Alternatively, if the number of light points differ between the first distribution and the second distribution, a light point from the first distribution may have a different energy than a light point from the second distribution. The difference in energy between the light points may be based on the number of light points in the first distribution relative to the number of light points in the second distribution.

[00122] FIG. 11 is a depiction 1100 of example first and second distributions 1102 and 1104 combined for a combined (or final) distribution 1106. While the orientation of the DOEs 1108 and 1110 (and for the DOEs in FIGS. 12 - 14) are illustrated as having the uneven surfaces oriented toward one another, any suitable orientation of the DOEs may be used. For example, the surfaces may be oriented in one direction (such as in any arrangement in FIGS. 7A - 71). The present disclosure should not be limited by the specific example in FIG. 11, or the examples in FIGS. 12 - 14.

[00123] For light passing from left to right through the diffractive element 1116, the first DOE 1108 may generate the first distribution 1102 with light points 1112. The second DOE 1110 may generate the second distribution 1104 with light points 1114. The combined distribution thus may include the light points 1112 and 1114. FIG. 11 illustrates the second distribution 1104 being a spatial shift of the first distribution 1102. However, the distributions 1102 and 1104 may include different numbers or different locations of light points other than a uniform shift of the light points between distributions. Further, while FIG. 11 illustrates the distributions 1102 and 1104 being interleaved in the combined distribution 1106, the distributions may be combined in other ways, such as being stacked, tiled, or otherwise non-interleaved.

[00124] If the overall diffractive element 1116 is configurable, a projector may be able to switch between projecting the distributions 1102 - 1106 for different operating modes. In one example, the projector may be configured to switch between projecting the first distribution 1102 and projecting the combined distribution 1106. In another example, if the second distribution 1104 includes a greater number of light points 1114 than the number of light points 1112 of the first distribution 1102, the projector may be able to switch between projecting the first distribution 1102, projecting the second distribution 1104, and projecting the final distribution 1106. In this manner, a projector may project fewer light points for scenes with more ambient light (such as outdoors during a sunny day) and may project more light points for scenes with less ambient light (such as indoors or night time). The projector may switch between which distributions of light are to be projected by adjusting the refractive indexes for the diffractive element 1116 in relation to the light passing through the diffractive element 1116.

[00125] In some example implementations, the refractive indexes for the diffractive element 1116 may be adjustable by adjusting the polarity of the light passing through the element 1 116. For example, referring to FIG. 10, the polarity of the light passing through the element 1116 may be adjusted between a first polarity 1004, a second polarity 1006, and/or a polarity between the first polarity 1004 and the second polarity 1006. In some other example implementations, the refractive indexes for the element 1116 may be adjusted by adjusting the physical properties (and thus the refractive index) of the refractive material 1118. By adjusting the physical properties of the refractive material 1118, the distribution of light may be adjusted regardless whether the light passing through the diffractive element 1 116 is polarized. For example, a distribution of unpolarized light may be adjusted based on adjusting the refractive index of the refractive material 1118.

[00126] Combining a DOE for generating a distribution of light points and a diffusion element for flood illumination may be similar to the example in FIG. 11. FIG. 12 is a depiction 1200 of an example distribution 1202 and a flood illumination 1204 that may be projected by a configurable diffractive element 1216. The DOE 1208 may project the distribution 1202 with light points 1212. The diffusion element 1210 may project a flood illumination 1204 with a diffusion 1214. In one example, the refractive indexes for the diffractive element 1216 may be adjustable to switch between projecting the distribution 1202 and the combined projection 1206. The combined projection may include a sufficient diffusion of the light for flood illumination. In another example, the refractive indexes for the element 1216 may be adjustable to switch between projecting the distribution 1202 and the flood illumination 1204. In some example implementations, the refractive indexes of the material 1218 may be adjustable, or the polarity of the light passing through the element 1216 may be adjustable. While the example in FIG. 12 illustrates the diffusion element 1210 after the DOE 1208 (with light travelling from left to right), the ordering of the elements 1208 and 1210 may be switched. Further, while the uneven surfaces of the elements are illustrated as oriented toward each other, the surfaces may be oriented in one direction (such as in any arrangement in FIGS. 7A - 71). The present disclosure should not be limited by the specific example in FIG. 12.

[00127] Referring back to the diffractive element 1116 in F1G. 11, and similar for the element 1216 in FIG. 12, the refractive indexes of the material 1118 may be adjusted when electricity is applied to the material 1118. For example, when no electricity is applied, the material 1118 may be a birefringent material with a first refractive index for light with a first polarity 1004 and a second refractive index for light with a second polarity 1006 (FIG. 10). The first refractive index may be the refractive index of a first DOE 1108. The second refractive index may be the refractive index of the second DOE 1110. When electricity is applied to the material 1118, the refractive index may be exclusively the second refractive index for light with the second polarity. In this manner, when the light is unpolarized or having a polarity between the first polarity 1004 and the second polarity 1006, the projector may project the first distribution 1102 when electricity is applied to the material 1118, and the projector may project the combined distribution 1106 when no electricity is applied to the material 1118.

[00128] The refractive material may be coupled to one or more electrical contacts for applying electricity to the refractive material. In some examples of the element 1116 configured to apply electricity to the material 1118, the two DOEs 1108 and 1110 may be fabricated on two substrates. A layer of transparent electrode film (e.g., indium tin oxide) may be deposited on each substrate. The film thus may conduct electricity and apply the electricity to the material 1118.

[00129] An example material 1118 is a liquid crystal (LC). The LC includes a plurality of molecules with one or more orientations, and the orientation of the molecules affects the refractive index of the LC. In this manner, the refractive index of an LC may be configured by orienting the molecules of the LC. For example, if the orientation of the molecules are perpendicular to the LC (or the DOE surfaces), the refractive index of the LC may be one refractive index. The molecules may be oriented perpendicular to the LC by applying an electricity to the LC (such as via one or more electrical contacts). If no electricity is applied, the molecules may shift to different orientations. For some birefringent LCs, the molecules may be oriented in one of two orientations when no electricity is applied. In this manner, the portion of the light energy with the corresponding first polarity 1004 for the molecules in the first orientation is adjusted based on the first refractive index, and the remainder of the light energy with the corresponding second polarity 1006 for the molecules in the second orientation is adjusted based on the second refractive index. For some other birefringent LCs, the molecules may be in a first orientation when no electricity is applied and in a second orientation when electricity is applied. For some further birefringent LCs, the molecules may be randomly oriented with an average or overall refractive index of the LC as a result of the orientations of the molecules. The average refractive index may be the first refractive index or the second refractive index of the DOEs on either side of the LC. In manufacturing the diffractive element 1116 (FIG. 11) or 1216 (FIG. 12) where the refractive material is an LC, the molecules of the LC may be aligned and oriented in any suitable manner so that the refractive indexes may be adjusted based on applying an electricity to the refractive material or adjusting the polarity of the light passing through the diffractive element 1116 or 1216. If the polarity of the light is adjusted, an electricity may not be applied to the LC. In this manner, the refractive indexes of the LC changes with the change of the light polarization throughout operation of the light projector (and thus the light distribution is based on the polarity of the light passing through the elements).

[00130] In applying an electricity to the refractive material between the DOEs, the projector may be similar to the projector 200 in FIG. 2 or to the projector 300 in FIG. 3, other than the DOE 208 or 308 being replaced with a diffractive element having multiple DOEs and a refractive material (such as an LC) in between (as described above). The diffractive element may be adjusted by applying electricity to the refractive material via one or more electrical contacts (such as via an indium tin oxide layer).

[00131] FIG. 13A is a depiction of an example projector 1300 configured to apply an electricity to the LC 1314 (or other suitable refractive material) of the diffractive element 1304 to adjust the orientation of molecules in the LC 1314. The projector 1300 may include a light source 1302 (such as a VCSEL, DFB laser, or an array of VCSELs or DFB lasers). The light source 1302 may be configured to project light 1306 toward a lens 1308, and the lens 1308 may be configured to direct the light 1306 to the diffractive element 1304 to project the projection 1318. Example diffractive elements are as described above. In some example implementations, the diffractive element 1304 includes a first DOE 1310 at a proximal end of the diffractive element 1304 (relative to the incoming light 1306), a second DOE 1312 at a distal end of the diffractive element 1304 (relative to the incoming light 1306), and an LC 1314 between the first DOE 1310 and the second DOE 1312. The first DOE 1310 and the second DOE 1312 may be a combination of a first element to project a first distribution of light points and a second element to project a second distribution of light points. Alternatively, the first DOE 1310 and the second DOE 1312 may be a combination of a first element to project a distribution of light points and a second element to project a diffuse light. The diffractive element 1304 also may include a conductive material 1316 as one or more electrical contacts for applying electricity to the LC 1314 to adjust the orientation of the molecules in the LC 1314 (thus adjusting the distribution of light of the projection 1318).

[00132] First molecule orientation 1320 is illustrated as the molecules being perpendicular to the LC 1314 and the DOEs 1310 and 1312. The first molecule orientation 1320 may be the orientation of molecules in the LC 1314 when an electricity is applied to the LC 1314. In this manner, the refractive index of the LC 1314 may be the same as the refractive index of the first DOE 1310 (or, alternatively, the refractive index of the second DOE 1312). Light passing through the diffractive element 1304 thus may not be altered by the first DOE 1310 (or, alternatively, the second DOE 1312).

[00133] Second molecule orientation 1322 is illustrated as the molecules being parallel to the LC 1314 and the DOEs 1310 and 1312. The second molecule orientation 1322 may be the orientation of molecules in the LC 1314 when no electricity is applied to the LC 1314. In this manner, the refractive index of the LC 1314 may be the same as the refractive index of the other DOE than for the first molecule orientation 1320. Light passing through the diffractive element 1304 thus may not be altered by the other DOE than for the first molecule orientation 1320.

[00134] Third molecule orientation 1324 is illustrated as the molecules randomly oriented. The third molecule orientation 1324 is another example orientation of molecules in the LC 1314 when no electricity is applied to the LC 1314. The LC 1314 with the third molecule orientation 1324 may be configured to have an average refractive index that is different than the refractive index of the first DOE 1310 and that is different than the refractive index of the second DOE 1312 (e.g., the differences being greater than a threshold). The average refractive index for the LC 1314 with the third molecule orientation 1324 may be an average of (i) the refractive index of the LC 1314 with the first molecule orientation 1320 and (ii) the refractive index of the LC 1314 with the second molecule orientation 1322. In this manner, all of the light passing through the diffractive element 1304 experiences the same refractive index that is different from the first DOE 1310 and the second DOE 1312. As a result, all of the light passing through the diffractive element 1304 is first altered by the first DOE 1310, and then altered by the second DOE 1312.

[00135] Fourth molecule orientation 1326 is illustrated as some of the molecules oriented as in the orientation 1320 and the other molecules oriented as in the orientation 1322 when an electricity is applied to the LC 1314. The electricity may not cause some of the molecules near the surface of the LC or DOE to orient to a first molecule orientation (such as perpendicular to the LC or DOE surface) However, the molecules that remain in the second molecule orientation (such as parallel to the LC or DOE surfaces) may be a thin layer relative to the feature size of the DOE. For example, the magnitudes of the peaks and valleys of the DOE surface may be multiples of the magnitude of the layer thickness of molecules not changing their orientation. The LC 1314 may affect a small portion of the light based on the parallel orientation of some molecules, and the LC 1314 may affect the large remainder of the light based on the perpendicular orientation of the remaining molecules (such as similar to the first molecule orientation 1320).

[00136] In some examples of manufacturing the LC 1314 so that the molecules may be oriented in a specific direction (such as for orientations 1322), orientating the molecules may be difficult near the surfaces of the DOEs 1310 and 1312. For example, the molecules’ orientation in the creases of the DOE surfaces may be slightly misaligned. Use of a random orientation of molecules allows for the LC 1314 to be filled in between the first DOE 1310 and the second DOE 1312 without concern for the orientation of the molecules (simplifying the manufacturing process). However, any suitable methods for manufacturing the LC 1314 may be used, and the present disclosure should not be limited to a random molecule orientation when no electricity is applied to the LC 1314 or any other described molecule orientations when no electricity is applied to the LC 1314. Further, the present disclosure should not be limited to a specific molecule orientation when an electricity is applied to the LC 1314.

In some example implementations, one or both of the uneven surfaces of the DOEs 1310 and 1312 may be oriented away from the LC 1314, alleviating issues in attempting to orient the molecules along the uneven surfaces. Each of the example configurations in FIG. 9 may be applied to the diffractive element 1304 in FIG. 13A.

[00137] Applying and removing an electricity to and from the LC 1314 may configure the molecule orientation between the first molecule orientation 1320 for a first mode and one of the molecule orientations 1322 - 1326 for a second mode. In this manner, the projector 1300 may switch between using one of the DOEs 1310 and 1312 and using both DOEs 1310 and 1312 for the projection 1318 (such as when switching the molecule orientation between orientation 1320 and orientation 1324 or 1326), or the projector 1300 may switch between using a first DOE 1310 and using a second DOE 1312 for the projection 1318 (such as when switching the molecule orientation between orientation 1320 and orientation 1322).

[00138] FIG. 13A depicts that the conductive material 1316 may be connected to or embedded in the LC 1314 (or suitable refractive material) in coupling the conductive material 1316 to the LC 1314.

In some other example implementations, the conductive material 1316 may be embedded in or connected to one or more of the DOEs in coupling the conductive material 1316 to the LC 1314 for applying electricity to the LC 1314.

[00139] FIG. 13B is another depiction of the example projector with a different example location of the conductive material 1316 for applying electricity to the LC 1314. One or more conductive materials 1316 may be embedded in the first DOE 1310, and one or more conductive materials 1316 may be embedded in the second DOE 1312. Electricity may pass between the conductive materials 1316 embedded in the DOEs 1310 and 1312 and pass through the LC 1314.

[00140] In some example implementations, the conductive material 1316 is embedded in a DOE during DOE fabrication. For example, a DOE may be fabricated on a glass substrate. To fabricate the DOE on a glass substrate and include the conductive material, a transparent electrode film may be deposited on the glass substrate. The electrode film may be made from indium tin oxide (ITO) or any other suitable conductive material. The surface of the DOE may be fabricated by depositing a polymer layer on the electrode film and embossing or curing the polymer. In another example, the surface of the DOE may be fabricated by depositing a dielectric film on the electrode film and etching the dielectric film. In this manner, the conductive material may be embedded in the DOE and configured to apply electricity to the LC bordering the DOE surface.

[00141] FIG. 13C is another depiction of the example projector in FIG. 13A with a different example location of the conductive material 1316 for applying electricity to the LC 1314. One or more conductive materials 1316 may be disposed on the surface of the first DOE 1310, and one or more conductive materials 1316 may be disposed on the surface of the second DOE 1312. Electricity may pass between the conductive materials 1316 disposed on the surfaces of the DOEs 1310 and 1312 to pass through the LC 1314. The conductive material 1316 may be a transparent electrode film (such as made from ITO or another suitable material) placed on the surface of the DOE during or after DOE fabrication.

[00142] While one piece of conductive material per DOE is illustrated, any number of conductive materials and any suitable type of conductive materials may be used. As such, the present disclosure should not be limited to the above examples regarding the conductive materials electrically coupled to the refractive material.

[00143] Using electricity to adjust the refractive indexes of the LC 1314 may be for unpolarized light passing through the diffractive element 1304. For example, a VCSEL or VCSEL array may emit unpolarized light, and the distribution of the light of the projection 1318 may be adjusted by applying electricity to the LC 1314 instead of polarizing the light and adjusting the polarity. Alternative to adjusting the refractive index of the LC 1314 by applying electricity, the refractive index of the LC may be adjusted by adjusting the polarity of the light passing through the diffractive element. In some example implementations, DFB lasers of a light source emit polarized light, or VCSEL(s) of a light source may be coupled to or include a polarizer so that the emitted light is polarized.

[00144] In adjusting the refractive index of the diffractive element by adjusting the polarity of the light passing through the element, a projector may transmit linearly polarized light through the element, and a polarization rotator may be used to rotate the linear polarization of the light. For example, a half wave plate may be rotated between 0 and 90 degrees to adjust the polarization of the polarized light between a first polarization 1004 and a second polarization 1006 (as illustrated in FIG. 10).

[00145] FIG. 14 is a depiction of an example projector 1400 configured to adjust the polarity of the light passing through a diffractive element 1404 to adjust the distribution of light of the projection 1422. For example, the projector 1400 may adjust the light distribution of the projection 1422 from a first distribution of light points to a second distribution of light points (and/or a third distribution of light points), or the projector 1400 may adjust the projection 1422 from a distribution of light points for active light depth sensing to a diffuse light for flood illumination.

[00146] The projector 1400 may include a light source 1402. Some example implementations of the light source 1402 are a single laser (such as a VCSEL of DFB laser) or an array of lasers (such as a VCSEL array or a DFB laser array). The light source 1402 may be configured to emit light 1406 toward the lens 1412. If the light 1406 is unpolarized (such as provided by a VCSEL or VCSEL array), the projector 1400 optionally may include a polarizer 1408 to filter the light 1406 to polarized light 1410 with a first polarity. The polarity may be a linear polarity. In the example, the first polarity is described as the first polarity 1004 (FIG. 10) for ease of explanation, but any suitable polarity may be used.

[00147] The lens 1412 may be configured to direct the polarized light 1410 toward the diffractive element 1404. The diffractive element 1404 may be similar to the diffractive element 1304 in FIGS.

13A - 13C, other than an electricity may not be applied to the LC 1424 in adjusting the orientation of the molecules in the LC 1424. For example, the diffractive element 1404 may not include the conductive material (such as transparent conductive electrodes embedded in the DOEs). In some example implementations, the orientation of the molecules is the second molecule orientation 1322 (FIGS. 13A - 13C).

[00148] The projector 1400 further may include a polarity rotator 1414 for rotating the polarity of the polarized light 1410. For example, the polarity rotator 1414 may be a filter configured to rotate the polarity of the polarized light 1410 anywhere from the first polarity 1004 to the second polarity 1006. In some example implementations, the polarity rotator 1414 is a half-wave plate. The half-wave plate may be an LC waveplate configured for adjusting the polarity of the light by rotating between 0 degrees (such as for the first polarity 1004) and 45 degrees (such as for the second polarity 1006 90 degrees to the first polarity 1004). However, any suitable component for rotating or adjusting the polarity of the light 1410 may be used.

[00149] For the diffractive element 1404, the first DOE 1418 may have a first refractive index, and the second DOE 1420 may have a second refractive index. The LC 1424 may be birefringent with the first refractive index (of the first DOE 1418) for light with a first polarity 1004 and the second refractive index (of the second DOE 1420) for light with a second polarity 1006. In this manner, the projection 1422 may be adjusted based on the polarity of the polarized light 1416. Any of the orientations of the DOEs in FIGS. 9A - 9F, or any other suitable orientation of the DOEs, may be applied to the diffractive element 1404 in FIG. 14.

[00150] FIG. 15 is a depiction 1500 of example adjustments to the polarity of the light by adjusting the orientation of the polarity rotator 1502. The examples illustrate a half-wave plate as the polarity rotator 1502 in adjusting the polarity, but any suitable component may be used. In some examples, light with a first polarity 1004 (as illustrated in FIG. 10) may remain at a first polarity 1004 when the polarity rotator 1502 has a 0 degree rotation 1504. Light with a first polarity 1004 may be changed to a second polarity 1006 when the polarity rotator 1502 has a 45 degree rotation 1506. Light with a first polarity 1004 may be changed to a third polarity 1510 (between the first polarity 1004 and the second polarity 1006) when the polarity rotator 1502 has a rotation 1508 between 0 degrees and 45 degrees. Light with a third polarity 1510 thus may have a first component with a first polarity 1004 and a second component with a second polarity 1006.

[00151] FIG. 16A is a depiction 1600 of the projections based on the polarity of light passing through the diffractive element 1404. For light having a first polarity 1004, the first DOE of the diffractive element 1404 may divide the light into the projection 1602 (with the second DOE having no impact on the distribution of light). For light having a second polarity 1006, the second DOE of the diffractive element 1404 may divide the light into the projection 1604. The projection 1604 may have more or less light points than the projection 1602 In this manner, the projector 1400 (FIG. 14) may adjust the density of the distribution of light points by rotating the polarity of the light by 90 degrees.

[00152] For light having a third polarity 1510 between the first polarity 1004 and the second polarity 1006, each DOE of the diffractive element 1404 may divide a portion of the light into the projection 1602 and the projection 1604 combined to generate the projection 1606 (based on the refractive indexes of the LC 1424). If the projection 1604 includes more or less light points than the projection 1602, the angle of the third polarity 1510 may be based on the number of light points of the projection 1604 relative to the number of light points of the projection 1602 so that each light point in the projection 1606 has the same energy. For example, if the projection 1604 includes twice as many light points as the projection 1602, the energy is dispersed twice as much for the projection 1604 than the projection 1602. As a result, the third polarity 1510 may be at 54.7 degrees relative to the first polarity 1004 at 0 degrees so that twice as much energy is to be dispersed for the projection 1604 than for the projection 1602. If the projection 1604 has the same number of light points as the projection 1602, the light energy may be divided equally between the first polarity 1004 and the second polarity 1006, and the third polarity 1510 may be at 45 degrees relative to the first polarity 1004 at 0 degrees. While FIG. 16A is depicted regarding adjusting the density of a distribution of light points, the same may apply for switching between a distribution of light points for active light depth sensing and a diffuse light for flood illumination.

[00153] FIG. 16B is a depiction 1650 of projections including a distribution of light points or flood illumination based on the polarity of light passing through the diffractive element 1404. For light having a first polarity 1004, the first DOE of the diffractive element 1404 may divide the light into the projection 1612 (with the second DOE (diffusion element) having no impact). For light having a second polarity 1006, the second DOE (diffusion element) of the diffractive element 1404 may diffuse the light for flood illumination, such as illustrated by the projection 1614. In this manner, the projector 1400 (FIG. 14) may switch between projecting a distribution of light points and flood illumination by rotating the polarity of the light 90 degrees.

[00154] With a projector configured to adjust its projection (such as adjusting the density of the distribution of light points or switching between projecting a distribution of light points and flood illumination), a device including the projector may be configured to control operation of the projector. For example, the device 600 (FIG. 6) may be configured to control operation of the transmitter 601, including adjusting the distribution of light from the transmitter 601. The distribution of light may be adjusted by adjusting the refractive indexes of a diffractive element in the transmitter 601 (such as through applying an electricity to a birefringent refractive material, such as an LC, or through adjusting the polarity of the light passing through the diffractive element).

[00155] FIG. 17 is an illustrative flow chart depicting an example operation 1700 for adjusting the distribution of light to be projected by a projector. The device 600 in F1G. 6 is referred to in performing the example operation 1700 for ease of explanation, but any suitable device may perform the example operation 1700. Further, operations for controlling the transmitter 601 may be performed by the light controller 610 (such as the signal processor 612), the processor 604, and/or any other suitable component of the device 600.

[00156] Beginning at 1702, the device 600 may determine whether the transmitter 601 is to project a first projection or a second projection. In some aspects, the first projection may be a first distribution of light for active depth sensing, and the second projections may be a diffuse light for flood illumination. In some other aspects, the first projection may be a first distribution of light, and the second projection may be a second distribution of light different from the first distribution. Other suitable combinations of projections may exist, and the present disclosure should not be limited to the provided examples.

[00157] In some example implementations, the determination of which projection is to be projected may be based on whether flood illumination or active depth sensing is to be performed by the device 600 (1704). In some other example implementations where active depth sensing is to be performed, the device 600 may determine a suitable distribution density of light (1706) where the first projection and the second projection include different density distributions (e g., as illustrated in FIG.

11). The determination may be based on the amount of ambient light existing in the scene.

Additionally or alternatively, the determination may be based on the resolution needed, the application for which active depth sensing is to be performed, or the distance of the object from the device 600 for which active depth sensing is being performed. For example, facial recognition applications may require a higher resolution (and thus a higher density of light distribution by the transmitter 601) than object tracking or range finding applications.

[00158] While not illustrated, the device 600 may determine whether a third projection is to be projected. For example, the device 600 may determine whether the transmitter 601 should project the first projection and the second projection as a combined projection (such as to increase the density of a distribution by projecting a first density distribution and a second density distribution).

[00159] If the transmitter 601 is to project the first projection (1708), the transmitter 601 may project the first projection via a diffractive element with first refractive indexes (1710). The diffractive element may include two DOEs with a refractive material (such as a LC) in between, as described in the above examples. In some example implementations of the diffractive element having first refractive indexes, the transmitter 601 may transmit light through the diffractive element without applying an electricity to the refractive material between the DOEs (1712). In some other example

implementations, the transmitter 601 may transmit polarized light through the diffractive element without adjusting the polarity of the light (1714). For example, the polarity of the light may remain in a first polarity 1004 when passing through a half-wave plate as a result of the half-wave plate of the projector remaining at a rotation of 0 degrees.

[00160] Referring back to 1708, if the transmitter 601 is to project the second projection, the device 600 may adjust the refractive indexes of the diffractive element (1716). In some example implementations, the device 600 may apply an electricity to the refractive material between the first DOE and the second DOE of the diffractive element (1718). For example, an electricity may be applied to an LC to adjust the orientation of the molecules in the LC. In some other example implementations, the device 600 may rotate the polarity of polarized light transmitted through the diffractive element (1720). For example, the device 600 may adjust a polarity rotator (such as rotating a half-wave plate) to rotate the polarity of the light from 0 degrees to up to 90 degrees.

[00161] The transmitter 601 then may project the second projection via the diffractive element with the adjusted refractive indexes (1722). While the example operation 1700 describes projection of a first projection or a second projection, any number of projections may be projected (such as a third projection). The plurality of projections may be for flood illumination or active depth sensing, based on the DOEs of the diffractive element in the transmitter 601.

[00162] Referring to a light projector adjustable for switching between a first mode for active depth sensing (during which a distribution of light for active depth sensing is projected) and a second mode for flood illumination (during which a diffuse light is projected), in some aspects, a light projector may switch between the first mode and the second mode without the use of a refractive material. FIG.

18 is a depiction 1800 of an example distribution 1808 and an example diffusion 1812 combined for a projector. The diffractive element 1802 includes the DOE 1804, which may be configured to project the distribution 1808 with light points 1810. The diffractive element 1802 also includes a diffusion element 1806 configured to provide an example diffusion 1812 for a light point (such as one of the light points 1810). In some example implementations, the diffractive element 1802 may be configured to project the combined projection 1814. In projecting the combined projection 1814, the diffusion element 1806 may diffuse each light point 1810 of the distribution 1808 projected by the DOE 1804.

The combined projection 1814 may be suitable for flood illumination.

[00163] The example light projector including the diffractive element 1802 may be configured to switch between projecting the distribution 1808 for a first mode (such as for active depth sensing) and projecting the combined projection 1814 for a second mode (such as for flood illumination). The diffusion element 1806 is prevented from diffusing the light points 1810 during the first mode and enabled to diffuse the light points 1810 during the second mode (such as described below regarding FIGS. 20A and 20B). In some example implementations for the example diffractive element 1802, the refractive index of the diffusion element may be adjustable in preventing or enabling the diffusion element from diffusing light.

[00164] While the example diffractive element 1802 is illustrated as including the DOE 1804 and the diffusion element 1806 without separation between the elements 1804 and 1806, the elements 1804 and 1806 may be separated by a material (such as air, nitrogen, an inert gas, a transparent plastic, a glass substrate, a refractive material, or other suitable material). FIG. 19A is a depiction 1900 of an example orientation of a DOE 1902 and a diffusion element 1904 for a diffractive element. In some aspects (and similar to the diffractive element 1802 in FIG. 18), the DOE 1902 and the diffusion element 1904 may not be separated. In the example depiction 1900, the DOE 1902 may be located between the light source (not shown) and the diffusion element 1904 along the direction 1906 of light emitted from the light source. In this manner, the diffusion element 1904 may be enabled to diffuse the light projected by the DOE 1902.

[00165] FIG. 19B is a depiction 1910 of another example orientation of a DOE 1912 and a diffusion element 1914 for a diffractive element. The DOE 1912 and the diffusion element 1914 may be separated by a material 1918. The material 1918 may be air, nitrogen, an inert gas, a transparent plastic, a refractive material, a glass substrate, or any other suitable material separating the DOE 1912 and the diffusion element 1914. For example, the material 1918 may have a refractive index that is different than the refractive index of the DOE 1912. The material 1918 may have any suitable state, such as being gaseous, liquid, or a solid. Similar to FIG. 19A, the DOE 1912 may be located between the light source (not shown) and the diffusion element 1914 along the direction 1916 of light emitted from the light source.

[00166] While the example diffractive element 1802 in FIG. 18 is illustrated as including the uneven surface of the DOE 1804 oriented toward the diffusion element 1806, the orientations of the DOE 1804 and the diffusion element 1806 may be any suitable orientations. For example, the uneven surface of the DOE 1804 may be oriented away from the diffusion element 1806.

[00167] FIG. 19C is a depiction 1920 of another example orientation of a DOE 1922 and a diffusion element 1924 for a diffractive element. The DOE 1922 and the diffusion element 1924 may not be separated, and the uneven surface of the DOE 1922 may be oriented away from the diffusion element 1924. In the example depiction 1920, the DOE 1922 may be located between the light source (not shown) and the diffusion element 1924 along the direction 1926 of light emitted from the light source. In this manner, the diffusion element 1924 may be enabled to diffuse the light projected by the DOE 1922.

[00168] Similar to the depiction 1910 in FIG. 19B, the DOE 1922 and the diffusion element 1924 in FIG. 19C may be separated by a material (such as air, nitrogen, an inert gas, a transparent plastic, a glass substrate, a refractive material, or other suitable material). FIG. 19D is a depiction 1930 of another example orientation of a DOE 1932 and a diffusion element 1934 for a diffractive element. The DOE 1932 and the diffusion element 1934 may be separated by a material 1938. The material 1938 may be air, nitrogen, an inert gas, a transparent plastic, a glass substrate, a refractive material, or any other suitable material separating the DOE 1932 and the diffusion element 1934. For example, the material 1938 may have a refractive index that is different than the refractive index of the DOE 1932. The material 1938 may have any suitable state, such as being gaseous, liquid, or a solid. Similar to FIG. 19C, the DOE 1932 may be located between the light source (not shown) and the diffusion element 1934 along the direction 1936 of light emitted from the light source.

[00169] The dimensions, size, and shape of the diffusion elements 1904, 1914, 1924, and 1934 in FIGS. 19A-19B, respectively, may be any suitable dimensions, size and shape, and the diffusion elements 1904, 1914, 1924, and 1934 are shown for illustrative purposes regarding the location of the diffusion element in relation to the DOEs 1902, 1912, 1922, or 1932, respectively. In one example, the diffusion element 1904 or 1924 may be a film disposed on the surface of the DOE 1902 or 1922, respectively. In another example, the diffusion element 1904 or 1924 may be a material manufactured to have a complimentary surface to the surface of the DOE 1902 or 1922 for assembling the diffractive element. In a further example, the diffusion element 1914 or 1934 is a film, polymer, or other suitable material for assembling the diffractive element. While the illustration of the DOE 1922 and the diffusion element 1924 in FIG. 19C is used in the following examples and depictions regarding operation of the example diffractive element, any suitable configuration of the elements may be used, and the examples are provided for illustrative purposes. For example, the orientations of the DOE and the diffusion element may be reversed or in another suitable orientation or position for the diffractive element. As such, the present disclosure should not be limited to the provided examples.

[00170] FIG. 20A is a depiction 2000 of a light projector operating in a first mode for projecting a distribution 2006 of light. In the example, the diffractive element includes the DOE 1922 and the diffusion element 1924. Light 2002 (which may be from the light source of the light projector) is diffracted by the DOE 1922 into a distribution 2004. For example, the distribution 2004 may include a plurality of light points to be used for active depth sensing. The diffusion element 1924 may be prevented from diffusing the distribution 2004 of light passing through the diffusion element 1924 during the first mode. In this manner, the light projector may project a distribution 2006. The distribution 2006 may be the same or similar to distribution 2004 projected by the DOE 1922.

[00171] FIG. 20B is a depiction 2010 of a light projector operating in a second mode for projecting a diffuse projection 2016 of light. Similar to FIG. 20A, the diffractive element includes the DOE 1922 and the diffusion element 1924. Light 2012 (which may be from the light source of the light projector) is diffracted by the DOE 1922 into a distribution 2014 (which may be the same as distribution 2004 in FIG. 20A). The diffusion element 1924 may be enabled to diffuse the distribution 2014 of light passing through the diffusion element 1924 during the second mode. In this manner, the light projector may project a diffuse projection 2016. The diffuse projection 2016 may include a diffusion of each light point of the distribution 2014 projected by the DOE 1922.

[00172] In some aspects, the diffusion element may be enabled to and prevented from diffusing the projection from the DOE by applying and removing an electricity to the diffusion element. For example, the diffusion element may have a first refractive index when no electricity is applied to the diffusion element (when the diffusion element is at rest), and the diffusion element may have a second refractive index when electricity is applied to the diffusion element. The diffractive element may include one or more electrical contacts coupled (e.g., physically, electrically, or other suitable coupling) to the diffusion element. In some examples, the diffractive element may have no electrical contacts connected to the diffusion element. In some other examples, the diffractive element may include one or more electrical contacts connected to the diffusion element. In some example implementations, the first mode of the light projector (such as FIG. 20A) may be when an electricity is not applied to the diffusion element, and the second mode of the light projector (such as FIG. 20B) may be when an electricity is applied to the diffusion element. In this manner, the light projector may switch between a first mode for projecting a distribution of light (such as for active depth sensing) and a second mode for projecting a diffuse light (such as for flood illumination).

[00173] FIG. 21A is a depiction 2100 of a switchable diffusion element 2102 that has a material 2103 (e.g., a liquid crystal) disposed between two substrates 2104 and 2106. The diffusion element 2102 also may include one or more electrical contacts 2108. In some example orientations, the features 2107 of the diffusion element 2102 for diffusing the light may be located on one or both substrates 2104 and 2106. For example, the features 2107 may be one or more surfaces of one or both substrates 2104 and 2106 activated to diffuse the light. The one or more surfaces may be facing or emerged in the material 2103. The surfaces may be fabricated to diffuse light as desired when activated. The molecules 2105 of the material 2103 are randomly oriented when there is no electricity applied to the material 2103 via the electrical contacts 2108 (e.g., when the electricity is below a threshold to align the molecules), and the diffusion element 2102 has a first refractive index. If the refractive index of the substrates (including the diffusion features 2107) is the same as the first refractive index, the light may pass through the diffusion element 2102 without being substantially affected (e.g., not perceptible or substantial for impacting operation of the device). In this manner, the diffusion element 2102 may be considered to be inactive or off (and the diffusion features 2107 may be considered inactive). If the refractive index of the substrates (including the diffusion features) is different than the first refractive index, the light passing through the diffusion element 2102 may be diffused. In this manner, the diffusion element 2102 may be considered to be active or on (and the diffusion features 2107 may be considered active or activated).

[00174] FIG. 21B is a depiction 2110 of the example diffusion element 2102 in a second state. The molecules 2105 are in a similar orientation during the second state of the diffusion element 2102 (such as when an electricity is applied to the diffusion element 2102). The electricity may pass between the electrical contacts 2108 and through the material 2103, causing the molecules 2105 to orient in a similar manner. The material 2103 with aligned molecules 2105 has a second refractive that is different from the first refractive index (for the material 2103 with randomly oriented molecules 2105). If the refractive index of the substrates (including the diffusion features 2107) is the same as the second refractive index, the light may pass through the diffusion element 2102 without being substantially affected (e.g., not perceptible or substantial for impacting operation of the device). In this manner, the diffusion element 2102 may be considered to be inactive or off (and the diffusion features 2107 may be considered inactive). If the refractive index of the substrates (including the diffusion features) is different than the second refractive index, the light passing through the diffusion element 2102 may be diffused. In this manner, the diffusion element 2102 may be considered to be active or on (and the diffusion features 2107 may be considered active or activated). The orientation of the molecules 2105 in FIGS. 21A and 21B are for illustrative purposes, and any suitable orientation of the molecules may exist for the diffusion element 2102. For example, the molecules 2105 may be in a non-random orientation during the first mode.

[00175] While FIGS 21A and 21B illustrate diffusion features 2107 disposed on both substrates 2104 and 2106, the diffusion features 2107 may be disposed on one of the substrates 2104 or 2106.

FIG. 21C is a depiction 2120 of a switchable diffusion element 2102 having the diffusion features 2107 on the first substrate 2104. FIG. 21D is a depiction 2130 of the example diffusion element 2102 in FIG. 21C in a second state. FIG. 21E is a depiction 2140 of a switchable diffusion element 2102 having the diffusion features 2107 on the second substrate 2106. FIG. 21F is a depiction 2150 of the example diffusion element 2102 in FIG. 21E in a second state. Other suitable configurations of the diffusion element 2102 may exist, and the present disclosure should not be limited to the provided examples.

[00176] FIG. 22A is another depiction 2200 of an example diffusion element 2202 in a first state and coupled to two electrical contacts 2206 and 2208. In some aspects, the diffusion element 2202 may include a polymer 2203 with LC (or other suitable material) droplets 2204 (with, e.g., LC molecules) embedded throughout the polymer 2203. In some example implementations, the polymer 2203 may be an amorphous polymer or other type of transparent or translucent polymer, and the polymer may have a first refractive index. The molecules in the droplets 2204 may be randomly oriented during the first state of the diffusion element 2202 (such as when no electricity is applied to the diffusion element 2202), and the droplets having a random orientation of the molecules may correspond to a second refractive index different than the first refractive index of the polymer. If the second refractive index is different than the first refractive index of the polymer 2203, light is scattered by the droplets 2204, diffusing the light passing through the diffusion element 2202. The diffusion element 2202 may be considered active or on. If the second refractive index is the same as the first refractive index of the polymer 2203, light is not scattered by the droplets 2204, and the light passing through the diffusion element 2202 is not substantially diffused. The diffusion element 2202 may be considered inactive or off.

[00177] FIG. 22B is a depiction 2210 of the example diffusion element 2202 in a second state. The molecules of the droplets 2204 are in a similar orientation during the second state of the diffusion element 2202 (such as when an electricity is applied to the diffusion element 2202). The electricity may pass from the electrical contact 2206, through the diffusion element 2202, and to the electrical contact 2208, causing the molecules to orient in a similar manner. The orientation of the molecules may correspond to a third refractive index. If the third refractive index is different than the first refractive index of the polymer 2203, light is scattered by the droplets 2204, diffusing the light passing through the diffusion element 2202. The diffusion element 2202 may be considered active or on. If the third refractive index is the same as the first refractive index of the polymer 2203, light is not scattered by the droplets 2204, and the light passing through the diffusion element 2202 is not substantially diffused.

The diffusion element 2202 may be considered inactive or off. In some example implementations, one of the second refractive index and the third refractive index is the same as the first refractive index, and the other refractive index is different than the first refractive index. Similar to FIGS. 21A-21F, the orientation of the molecules are for illustrative purposes, and any suitable orientation of the molecules may exist for the diffusion element 2202. For example, the molecules in the droplets 2204 may be in a non-random orientation during the first mode.

[00178] In some example implementations, one or more electrical contacts may be positioned on edges or other portions of the diffusion material where the light does not pass through the diffusion element. For example, one or more electrical contacts may be connected to the diffusion element on one or more sides of the diffusion element incidental to the sides though which light passes. In some other example implementations, one or more electrical contacts may be positioned on edges or portions of the diffusion material through which light passes. For example, an electrical contact may be connected to a front of the diffusion element, and an electrical contact may be connected to the back of the diffusion element in relation to the direction of light passing through the diffusion element. One or more electrical contacts may be any suitable transparent conductor to allow light to pass through, such as conductors made from indium tin oxide (ITO) or other suitable transparent or translucent materials.

[00179] In some other examples of coupling the electrical contacts or conductive material to the diffusion element, one or more electrical contacts or conductive material may be embedded in the DOE. FIG. 23A is a depiction of an example diffractive element 2300 with one or more electrical contacts 2306 embedded in the DOE 2302. One or more other electrical contacts may be connected to the distal side of the diffusion element 2304 relative to the DOE 2302. In this manner, electricity may flow between the electrical contacts 2306 and through the diffusion element 2304 in adjusting the refractive index of the diffusion element 2304. The one or more electrical contacts may be embedded in the DOE 2302 as described above regarding FIG. 13B.

[00180] FIG. 23B is a depiction of an example diffractive element 2310 with one or more electrical contacts 2306 disposed on the surface of the DOE 2302. One or more other electrical contacts may be connected to the distal side of the diffusion element 2304 relative to the DOE 2302. In this manner, electricity may flow between the electrical contacts 2306 and through the diffusion element 2304 in adjusting the refractive index of the diffusion element 2304. The one or more electrical contacts may be disposed on the surface of the DOE 2302 as described above regarding FIG. 13C. [00181] In some example implementations, the uneven surface of the DOE 2302 may be oriented away from the diffusion element 2304 (e.g., in FIGS. 19C and 19D). FIG. 23C is a depiction of an example diffractive element 2320 with one or more electrical contacts 2306 disposed between the DOE 2302 and the diffusion element 2304. The uneven surface of the DOE 2302 may be oriented away from the diffusion element 2304. Electricity may flow between the electrical contacts 2306 and through the diffusion element 2304 in adjusting the refractive index of the diffusion element 2304. FIG. 23D is a depiction of an example diffractive element 2330 with one or more electrical contacts 2306 disposed on the diffusion element 2304 and located between the DOE 2302 and the diffusion element 2304.

Electricity may flow between the electrical contacts 2306 and through the diffusion element 2304 in adjusting the refractive index of the diffusion element 2304.

[00182] While one electrical contact per DOE is illustrated, any number of electrical contacts and any suitable type of conductive materials of the electrical contacts may be used. For example, the electrical contact 2306 on the distal side of the diffusion element 2304 may be separated from the diffusion element 2304 while still be electrically coupled to the diffusion element 2304. As such, the present disclosure should not be limited to the above examples regarding the electrical contacts electrically coupled to the diffusion element.

[00183] Regarding a light proj ector being configured to switch between proj ecting a distribution of light (such as for active depth sensing) and projecting a diffuse light (such as for flood illumination), a device (such as device 600 in FIG. 6) may adjust the operating mode of the light projector. FIG. 24 is an illustrative flow chart depicting an example operation 2400 for adjusting the light projection from a light projector. The device 600 in FIG. 6 is referred to in performing the example operation 2400 for ease of explanation, but any suitable device may perform the example operation 2400. Further, operations for controlling the transmitter 601 may be performed by the light controller 610 (such as the signal processor 612), the processor 604, and/or any other suitable component of the device 600.

Additionally, the transmitter 601 is described as including a diffractive element, such as described above. However, any suitable diffractive element may be used in performing the steps of the example operation 2400.

[00184] Beginning at 2402, the device 600 may emit a light (by a light source) along a first direction. For example, one or more lasers (such as VCSELs or DFB lasers) may emit one or more points of light toward a diffractive element in the transmitter 601 (2404). The emitted light may be unpolarized (such as from one or more VCSELs) or polarized (such as from one or more DFB lasers or after passing through a polarizer). As previously described, the unpolarized light may be characterized as including a first portion with an energy having a first linear polarity and including a second portion with an energy having a second linear polarity perpendicular to the first linear polarity. In some examples, the polarized light may have a first linear polarity. [00185] As previously described, a light projection from the transmitter 601 may be adjustable based on, e g., a physical characteristic of a diffractive element (such as by adjusting the orientation of molecules of a liquid crystal or other refractive material) or a polarity of the light passing through the diffractive element (such as by adjusting the linear polarity of the light passing through the diffractive element). If the light emitted by the light source is unpolarized and the light projection is adjustable based on a linear polarity of the light passing through the diffractive element, the device 600 may polarize the emitted light (2406). For example, if the light source is one or more VCSELs (which may emit unpolarized light), the transmitter 601 may include a polarizer (such as a polarizer 1408 in FIG.

14). In this manner, the light from the polarizer may have a first polarity. If the light emitted by the light source is polarized (such as light emitted from one or more DFB lasers) or the light projection is adjustable based on a physical characteristic of the diffractive element (such as a characteristic of the refractive material or the diffusion element of the diffractive element), the device 600 may not polarize the emitted light (thus not performing 2406).

[00186] Referring to 2408, the device 600 may determine whether the transmitter 601 is to operate in a first mode corresponding to a distribution of light to be projected from the diffractive element. In some example implementations, the first mode is associated with active depth sensing. For example, the device 600 may determine whether the transmitter 601 is to operate in a first mode based on one or more active depth sensing applications being executed by the device 600 (such as by the processor 604). In one example, the device 600 may perform facial recognition for security purposes (such as to unlock a smartphone, access a personal banking application for a specific user, or for other identity verification purposes). In another example, the device may execute a range finding application, depth mapping, or other applications for determining depths of one or more objects. In this manner, the device 600 may determine to operate the transmitter 601 in the first mode for active depth sensing.

[00187] In some example implementations, the diffractive element of the transmitter 601 may include: a DOE for projecting a distribution of light (and having a first refractive index); a diffusion element for diffusing light (and having a second refractive index); and a refractive material (such as an LC with a third refractive index) between the elements to allow adjusting the light projection from the transmitter 601 by adjusting the third refractive index. In some other example implementations, the diffractive element of the transmitter 601 may include: a DOE for projecting a distribution of light and an adjustable diffusion element for diffusing light. If the transmitter 601 is to operate in a first mode, the device 600 may project a distribution of light from the emitted light (2410). The distribution of light may be from the DOE of the diffractive element.

[00188] In some examples, the DOE may be at a proximal end of the diffractive element relative to the light source, and the diffusion element may be at a distal end of the diffractive element relative to the light source (such as in FIGS. 7A, 7B, or 7C, or in FIGS. 19A and 19B, where the light passes from left to right). However, other suitable configurations of the elements may be used for the diffractive element. Additionally, while the example diffractive element is described regarding the orientation of the uneven surfaces of the DOE and the diffusion element as toward one another (when separated by a refractive material used in switching modes of the transmitter 601), any suitable orientation of the surfaces may be used. The described example configuration of the DOE and diffusion element for the diffractive element is exclusively for describing aspects of the example method, and the diffractive element and the transmitter 601 should not be limited to the example configurations.

[00189] In one example, if the refractive material between the elements is an LC having molecules whose orientation is adjustable by applying or removing electricity to or from the LC, the device may apply electricity to the refractive material of the diffractive element during the first mode (2412). In this manner, the third refractive index (based on the orientation of the molecules of the LC) may be the same as the second refractive index of the diffusion element, and the diffusion element thus may be prevented from diffusing the distribution of light from the DOE. Alternatively, the third refractive index may be the same as the second refractive index when electricity is not applied. In this manner, the device 600 may operate the transmitter 601 in the first mode by not applying an electricity to the refractive material (not shown).

[00190] In another example, if the refractive index of the refractive material is based on a polarity of the light passing through the diffractive element, the device 600 may direct emitted light with a first polarity through the diffractive element (2414). For example, if the refractive material is birefringent and characterized as having a first refractive index and a second refractive index based on the polarity of the light passing though, the light distribution projected by the DOE (and still having the first polarity) may pass through the refractive material as if the refractive index is exclusively the second refractive index (same as the diffusion element). In this manner, the diffusion element may be prevented from diffusing the distribution of light from the DOE.

[00191] In a further example, if the diffusion element is adjustable, the device may apply electricity to the diffusion element during the first mode (2416). For example, the refractive index of the diffusion element may be adjustable, such as the diffusion element including LC molecules whose orientation is adjustable by applying or removing electricity to or from the diffusion element. In this manner, the LC molecules of the diffusion element may be oriented in a similar manner (to one another and or to a polymer including the LC molecules) so as to prevent the diffusion element from diffusing the light distribution projected by the DOE of the diffractive element.

[00192] A second mode of the transmitter 601 may correspond to a diffuse light to be projected from the diffusion element. In some example implementations, the second mode is associated with flood illumination. For example, the device 600 may determine whether the transmitter 601 is to operate in the second mode based on one or more imaging applications being executed by the device 600 (such as by the processor 604). In one example, the device 600 may capture an image of a scene using the receiver 602 or another suitable image sensor. If the ambient light is insufficient for image capture, the transmitter 601 may illuminate a scene (such as for night vision or other low light image capture instances). In another example, ambient lighting may be insufficient for the device to determine a face or other object is located near the receiver 602 and is to be identified by the device 600. The device 600 may operate the transmitter 601 in the second mode to illuminate the scene and thus determine whether a face or object exists for identification through active depth sensing. In some examples, operating the light source in the second mode may be based on the level of ambient light in the scene.. In this manner, the device 600 may determine to operate the transmitter 601 in the second mode for flood illumination.

[00193] Referring back to 2408, if the device 600 determines that the transmitter 601 is not to operate in the first mode (such as to operate in the second mode), the device 600 may diffuse the emitted light using a diffusion element of the diffractive element (2418). If, e.g., the refractive material between the elements is an LC having molecules whose orientation is adjustable by applying or removing electricity to or from the LC, the device may prevent electricity from being applied to the refractive material of the diffractive element during the second mode (2420). In this manner, the third refractive index (based on the orientation of the molecules of the LC) may be different from the second refractive index of the diffusion element, and the diffusion element thus may diffuse the emitted light. Alternatively, the third refractive index may be different from the second refractive index when electricity is applied to the refractive material. In this manner, the device 600 may operate the transmitter 601 in the second mode by applying electricity to the refractive material (not shown).

[00194] In some example implementations, the third refractive index may be the same as the first refractive index of the DOE during the second mode (such as when applying or not applying electricity to the refractive material). The DOE may be prevented from projecting a distribution of light in the second mode, and the diffusion element diffuses the emitted light from the light source for flood illumination (e.g., 1204 in FIG. 12). In some other example implementations, the third refractive index may be different from the first refractive index and different from the second refractive index during the second mode. The DOE may project the distribution of light in the second mode, and the diffusion element diffuses the distribution of light for flood illumination (e.g., 1206 in FIG. 12). For example, if molecules of an LC have a random orientation during the second mode or the molecules are split between two orientations corresponding to the first refractive index and the second refractive index during the second mode, both elements of the diffractive element may be used for the light projection from the transmitter 601.

[00195] If the refractive index of the refractive material is based on a polarity of the light passing through the diffractive element, the device 600 may direct emitted light with a second polarity through the diffractive element (2422). If the refractive material is birefringent and characterized as having a first refractive index and a second refractive index based on the polarity of the light passing though, the second polarity may correspond to the first refractive index for the birefringent material. In this manner, the DOE may be prevented from projecting the distribution of light, and the diffusion element diffuses the emitted light from the light source for flood illumination (e.g., 1614 in FIG. 16B).

[00196] In some other example implementations, if the refractive index of the diffusion element is adjustable, the device 600 may switch the transmitter 601 to operating in the second mode (such as for flood illumination) by preventing electricity from being applied to the diffusion element (2424). For example, if the diffusion element is or includes LC molecules with a random orientation at rest (when no electricity is applied), preventing electricity from being applied to the diffusion element enables the diffusion element to diffuse the distribution projected by the DOE to project a diffuse light.

[00197] Referring back to FIG. 24, the process from step 2410 or step 2418 may revert to decision 2408, and the device 600 may determine whether to continue operating in the same mode or a different mode. In some example implementations, the device 600 may determine to switch from the first mode (for active depth sensing) to the second mode (for flood illumination) based on, e.g., different applications being executed. For example, active depth sensing may be used for facial recognition to unlock a smartphone. After unlocking the smartphone, a camera application may be executed for image capture, and the ambient light may be too low. In this manner, the smartphone may switch the light projector from a first mode (for facial recognition) to a second mode (for image capture). In some other example implementations, the device 600 may determine to switch from the second mode (for flood illumination) to the first mode (for active depth sensing). For example, flood illumination may be used for image capture of dark scenes in determining whether a face is near for facial recognition. If a face is near, the device 600 may switch the light projector from a second mode (for flood illumination and image capture) to a first mode (for facial recognition).

[00198] In some aspects, the device 600 may adjust the refractive index of the diffusion element by adjusting the refractive index of the diffusion element (such as the orientation of molecules in the diffusion element). In this manner, the device 600 may switch between modes by adjusting the refractive index of the refractive material or by adjusting the refractive index of the diffusion element. Adjusting the refractive index may be, e.g., applying or removing electricity to or from the refractive material (or diffusion element) or adjusting the polarity of the light passing through the diffractive element. In this manner, the device 600 may switch between active depth sensing and flood

illumination without requiring multiple transmitters 601 (such as a separate structured light projector and a separate flood illuminator).

[00199] The techniques described herein may be implemented in hardware, software, firmware, or any combination thereof, unless specifically described as being implemented in a specific manner. Any features described as modules or components may also be implemented together in an integrated logic device or separately as discrete but interoperable logic devices. If implemented in software, the techniques may be realized at least in part by a non-transitory processor-readable storage medium (such as the memory 606 in the example device 600 of FIG. 6) comprising instructions 608 that, when executed by the processor 604 (or the controller 610 or the signal processor 612), cause the device 600 to perform one or more of the methods described above. The non-transitory processor- readable data storage medium may form part of a computer program product, which may include packaging materials.

[00200] The non-transitory processor-readable storage medium may comprise random access memory (RAM) such as synchronous dynamic random access memory (SDRAM), read only memory (ROM), non-volatile random access memory (NVRAM), electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM), FLASH memory, other known storage media, and the like. The techniques additionally, or alternatively, may be realized at least in part by a processor-readable communication medium that carries or communicates code in the form of instructions or data structures and that can be accessed, read, and/or executed by a computer or other processor.

[00201] The various illustrative logical blocks, modules, circuits and instructions described in connection with the embodiments disclosed herein may be executed by one or more processors, such as the processor 604 or the signal processor 612 in the example device 600 of FIG. 6. Such processor(s) may include but are not limited to one or more digital signal processors (DSPs), general purpose microprocessors, application specific integrated circuits (ASICs), application specific instruction set processors (ASIPs), field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), or other equivalent integrated or discrete logic circuitry. The term“processor,” as used herein may refer to any of the foregoing structures or any other structure suitable for implementation of the techniques described herein. In addition, in some aspects, the functionality described herein may be provided within dedicated software modules or hardware modules configured as described herein. Also, the techniques could be fully implemented in one or more circuits or logic elements. A general purpose processor may be a microprocessor, but in the alternative, the processor may be any conventional processor, controller, microcontroller, or state machine. A processor may also be implemented as a combination of computing devices, e.g., a combination of a DSP and a microprocessor, a plurality of microprocessors, one or more

microprocessors in conjunction with a DSP core, or any other such configuration.

[00202] While the present disclosure shows illustrative aspects, it should be noted that various changes and modifications could be made herein without departing from the scope of the appended claims. For example, while the projectors are illustrated as including a lens to direct light toward a diffractive element, a projector may not include a lens or may include multiple lenses. In another example, while two elements of a diffractive element are described (such as a diffusion element and a DOE for light distribution, or two DOEs for different light distributions), any number of DOEs and/or diffusion elements may exist in the diffractive element, and multiple refractive materials may exist in the diffractive element. In another example, the electricity applied by the device or light projector in adjusting the projection may be alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC), and the voltage may be constant or non-constant. The electricity therefore may be any suitable electricity for adjusting the projection. Additionally, the functions, steps or actions of the method claims in accordance with aspects described herein need not be performed in any particular order unless expressly stated otherwise. For example, the steps of the described example operations, if performed by the device 600, the controller 610, the processor 604, and/or the signal processor 612, may be performed in any order and at any frequency. Furthermore, although elements may be described or claimed in the singular, the plural is contemplated unless limitation to the singular is explicitly stated. Accordingly, the disclosure is not limited to the illustrated examples and any means for performing the functionality described herein are included in aspects of the disclosure.