Apple has been granted a patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that could allow the company to create an accessory that would enable an iPhone to be used as a VR headset. The application for the patent was filed at the end of 2021, nearly a year and a half before Apple announced its first wearable mixed reality headset, the Apple Reality Pro. The patent application also suggests that Apple’s engineers continued to work on a version of the company’s cancelled AirPower wireless charger.
Patent US 11,677,429 B2, granted to Apple (via Patently Apple) on June 13, details the company’s plans for an accessory that can be mounted on a user’s head. The design of the accessory appears to resemble a VR headset that can house a smartphone, similar to a Google Cardboard headset. The patent lists Stephen Schooley, Ross Arriens, Sara Rusignuolo, Craig Ogden, Ho Chung, Vusthla Reddy, Jeremy Bataillou, and Xinping Zeng as the inventors of the technology.
The patent also includes an illustration that shows an isometric view of a headset-like accessory (denoted by the figure 11-800) that can wirelessly detect an electronic device like an iPhone (denoted by the figure 11-850). The head-mounted device could take the form of a virtual reality or augmented reality headset, according to the document, which describes a receptacle for the headset and a band that wraps around a user’s head. The headset and the phone are shown to communicate using wireless circuitry on both devices.
Additionally, the document also reveals a diagram of a wireless charging station that looks remarkably similar to Apple’s cancelled AirPower charging station. Two smartphones and a pair of wireless headphones are shown to be charging wirelessly — one of the handsets is shown in a case that can communicate wirelessly with the charging station, while a secondary screen on the case shows the charging status of both phones as well as the earphones. that are being charged.
However, as with all patented technology, there’s no word on whether — or when — these features will make their way to Apple devices in the future. The company recently announced its first mixed reality headset that combines AR and VR, at the recently concluded Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2023. Meanwhile, the AirPower was cancelled by Apple in 2019, over a year after it was unveiled in 2017.
Earlier this month, Apple was granted a patent that would allow the company to create new smartphones and tablets that are resistant to abrasion and scratches. The patent could lead to a new material that combines metal and ceramic to create a new material that offers better durability and is scratch-resistant, which means users might not need to use their iPhone with a protective case — at some point in the future.