Rumours suggest that Apple is working on its own virtual reality device! The company is said to have patented a VR headset designed to work with a “portable electronic device” like the iPhone, which is very similar to another patent Apple was granted in February 2015 for virtual reality “goggles”.
Other sources have said the company is also looking to develop augmented reality technology – which blends virtual content into real life, but does not completely immerse the user in a virtual world. Nevertheless, Apple is joining the race, hoping to compete with devices such as the Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift and Microsoft’s Hololens – whether this will be with virtual or augmented reality, we’ll have to wait to find out.
A secret lab is even said to have been set up, with hundreds of specialists working on the technology and finding out ways to include VR in future releases from the company, like adding augmented reality features to Apple Maps and “create high performance apps that integrate with virtual reality systems”, according to job adverts Apple put up last year.
Apple has been working on these goggles since at least 2010, when it filed a patent for a headset which uses the iPhone as a display, like the Samsung Gear VR. And in 2013, another patent was filed describing a “goggle system for providing a personal media viewing experience”, but a number of patents relating to VR displays can be found as far back as 2006.
Furthermore, companies like Metaio, Flyby and Faceshift have all been purchased by Apple in the past few years. They all share some characteristics, like the fact that they are start-up companies with an interest in 3D, motion sensing, and – you guessed it – virtual or augmented reality. It’s probably fair to say Apple bought these start-ups with the goal of developing their own brand of VR or AR.
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A copy of Apple’s application for virtual reality goggles was published last week, and this is what it looks like:
The design looks similar to most headsets available on the market, although maybe a little sleeker and less bulky – which is in line with Apple’s usual strategy of taking an existing idea and making it generally prettier and more user-friendly.
The patent application doesn’t use the term ‘virtual reality’ or even ‘augmented reality’. However, it does state that sensors would be included which could detect the user’s head movements – which would be very useful for a VR headset.
The full patent application can be found here if you’d like to know more about Apple’s exciting project.
With so little evidence, it’s difficult to know when exactly we can expect to see a virtual reality headset from Apple. It’s not even clear whether the company has already started making prototypes or is still in planning mode.
We’ll update this section with news as soon as we know more, so keep checking back for more information!
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