New headset could make Apple virtually unstoppable

18 Feb 2015

Just when you thought your Apple devices couldn’t become any more prominent in your lives, the tech giant finds another way to entertain you, with a VR headset.

In a move similar to Samsung’s creation of the Gear VR, Apple’s latest patent sees the company entering the headset, virtual-reality world.

The “head-mounted display apparatus” can support your iPhone, physically, with the patent, originally lodged in 2008, now approved.

“The frame may place a display screen of the portable electronic device in front of the user’s eyes,” the patent reads. “The display screen of the portable electronic device may act as the primary display screen of the head-mounted device.”

You still use your hands

Apple’s patent also includes a handheld controller, to allow a user to operate his or her iPhone when it’s lodged centimetres from his or her eyeballs. The utilisation of the remote is not entirely defined, with plenty of options suggested. It could be wired, wireless or both. Wi-Fi, infrared and Bluetooth are suggested wireless options to go by.

Apple VR

Apple’s patent shows how a handheld device can control an iPhone-mounted headset

Considering the evolution of the iPhone (an iPod is referenced in the antiquated patent), the larger screens do offer the potential for a very expansive visual experience, however, the similarities with Samsung’s Gear are pretty clear.

The Gear VR is also designed for you to mount a device into, quite popular for gaming. This is especially true when you consider the whole idea of the Gear was to work in conjunction with Oculus.

Count the cost

It’s also quite cheap and it’s hard to see Apple competing on price with pretty much anyone. Still, it’s not like Apple has been avoiding headwear.

Back in 2012 it gained a patent for a different head-mounted display, as Apple Insider explains, a 2008 patent for laser-based head-mounted displays was attained and even Apple glasses back in 2010 were approved.

Also, considering the way the market is going – iPhones are predicted to take up one-third of the entire smartphone market in a couple of years – finding ways to constantly evolve its offering is key to Apple.

However, considering this patent is now nearly seven years old, and Apple is quite a long way down the wristwatch road of wearable technology, there’s probably nothing happening on this end for awhile.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic