Apple may have aspirations to take on Oculus and even the Samsung Gear VR, which works with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. A new patent first discovered by Apple Insider points to a virtual reality headset that might one day work with the iPhone.
The patent was first filed in Sept. 2008, suggesting that Apple has been considering this sort of functionality for quite a long time. It’s titled “Head-mounted display apparatus for retaining a portable electronic device with display.” Apple’s invention describes similar functionality to how Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 and the Gear VR work together, with the iPhone doing a lot of the processing legwork and slipping into the headset.
“The portable electronic may be physically coupled to the head-mounted device such that the portable electronic device can be worn on the user’s head,” Apple’s patent says. “The head-mounted device may include a frame that is configured to physically receive and carry a portable electronic device. The frame may place a display screen of the portable electronic device in front of the user’s eyes. The display screen of the portable electronic device may act as the primary display screen of the head-mounted device such that the display screen of the portable electronic device is primarily used to view image based content when the head-mounted display device is worn on the user’s head.”
Apple describes displaying various content, such as movies, various graphical user interfaces, applications and TV shows, all of which are already supported by the Gear VR. In one image, we see that Apple imagines a small remote, similar to the Apple TV controller, that can be used to navigate the user interface. That differs from Samsung’s integration, which allows a user to control the UI with a touch-based interface on the side of the headset while also looking in different directions with an on-screen cursor.
The patent doesn’t necessarily mean Apple is going to push out a VR headset, but it’s on the company’s radar. In fact, the company has been searching for virtual reality experts in several job postings, which suggests it’s being taken seriously inside the Cupertino offices. The Oculus is amazing, and the Gear VR, also built with Oculus technology, is a stunning $200 accessory. Can Apple do it even better?