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Apple Patents Design for Mobile VR HMD

Could this new patent issue showcase a dedicated iPhone headset?

Apple might be the biggest tech company in the world, but its interest in virtual reality (VR) has seemed lukewarm at best. While other global giants such as Google, Samsung, HTC and Facebook have all actively pursued VR getting the technology to where it is today – into the hands of consumers – Apple has so far kept very quiet on the subject. Now a new patent issue by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has revealed further details relating to Apple’s VR plans.

Issued this week under Patent No.: US 9,429,759 B2 and entitled ‘Head-Mounted Display Apparatus for Retaining a Portable Electronic Device with Display’, the patent details a mobile headset in a similar vein to the Samsung Gear VR rather than the basic Google Cardboard style of system.

Apple Patent 759 - Fig.4

This is reference over several of the claims, for example claim 1 of the patent recites: “A head-mounted device that is worn on a user’s head and configured to integrate with a cellular telephone that is removable, the head-mounted device comprising:

a frame that is configured to physically receive and carry the cellular telephone, wherein the frame places a display screen of the cellular telephone in front of the user’s eyes; and an optical subassembly configured to receive at least one image frame from the display screen of the cellular telephone, wherein the optical subassembly is interposed between the display screen and the user’s eyes.” While in claim 10 it details: ‘a connector configured to receive a corresponding connector of the cellular telephone when the cellular telephone is integrated with the head-mounted device.’

While it’s widely expected Apple will enter the VR fold at some point, offering a dedicated device that’ll partner with its iPhone, this patent issue doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be anytime soon. This particular patent was filed in September 2015, and it’s part of a series of applications dating back to 2008, suggesting the Cupertino company has long considered a headset for its smartphone.

As and when Apple finally decides to confirm any VR plans, VRFocus will bring you the latest details.

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