Apple awarded patent for VR headset

Today, the US Patent Office awarded Apple a patent for a virtual reality headset that is, in effect, a case for an iPhone or iPod.

The patent application does not mention the iPad — possibly because it was first filed seven years ago, in 2008, two years before the iPad was first introduced.

The device described by Apple looks and sounds quite a bit like Samsung’s Gear VR, LG’s VR for G3, or the one Panasonic showed off last week, or any of the dozens of different takes on Google Cardboard.

(Image courtesy US Patent Office.)

(Image courtesy US Patent Office.)

The only thing that the patent diagrams don’t show are the lenses that are key to making the whole thing work.

But Apple’s engineers covered their bases in the text of the application.

“The interface mechanisms may also include optical interface mechanisms, such as lenses, etc., that provide optical communications for proper viewing of a display of the portable electronic device,” the patent application said.

But iPhone users don’t have to sit around and wait for Apple to actually do something with VR. Many of the Google Cardboard cases on the market will work fine with iPhones — at least, for watching virtual reality movies and demos. Google Cardboard headsets often include a magnet on the side that acts as a button you can click, allowing interactivity within apps when you can’t touch the screen. This magnet reportedly does not work with iOS devices.

maria@hypergridbusiness.com'

Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China.

  • Rene

    Well, having read the claims of this patent, it will cause quite the kerfuffle with all of phone or tablet based VR headsets. Oculus Rift and Morpheus are safe because their display is integrated into the unit. HoloLens is safe because its laser projectors and holographic lenses are not covered by this patent. But, Google cardboard, the Open VR one and any other one that has a portable electronic display device appears to infringe on the Apple patent.

  • Geir Nøklebye

    I actually find the PrimeSense patent for a 3D virtual keyboard also awarded to Apple as interesting, as everyone seems to be complaining about the user interface and difficulty if inputting information into a 3D view system. http://appleinsider.com/articles/15/02/17/apple-awarded-primesense-patent-for-3d-virtual-keyboard-that-would-allow-typing-on-air

    PrimeSense is most know for the infrared motion-tracking, depth-sensing chip Microsoft licensed for the Kinect Xbox 360 accessory. Apple acquired PrimeSense in 2013.

    • Rene

      Yes, there are several avenues on getting our hands into the virtual space. Nimble Sense, now acquired by Oculus/FaceBook uses a time of flight laser chip to map the 3-space in front of the person. The Nimble Sense will be integrated into the production version of the Oculus Rift. Windows HoloLens also uses a time of flight 3-space scanner to map the person’s upper limbs into the mixed reality space.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_U3BmDlmtc

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyhAzSAorKU