Apple is the latest tech giant to show interest in virtual reality. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple a patent entitled “Head-Mounted Display Apparatus for Retaining a Portable Electronic Device with Display” on Tuesday.
The patent, credited to inventor Quin C. Hoellwarth, is for a “head-mounted display apparatus for retaining a portable electronic device with display”. This would let users attach an iPhone into the device and see what is on the screen via the headset.
The diagrams of the device are very similar to Samsung’s Gear VR – a head mounted display using the Galaxy Note 4 smartphone. Samsung designed its virtual reality piece with Oculus – the firm that created the beta Rift VR headset.
Apple filed for the patent in September of 2008.
“The frame may place a display screen of the portable electronic device in front of the user’s eyes,” the patent reads. “The display screen of the portable electronic device may act as the primary display screen of the head-mounted device.”
“Using head-mounted devices, a user may view media provided by a portable electronic device. For example. a user may couple a personal electronic device, such as the iPod, available from Apple Inc. of Cupertino, Calif., or the iPhone available from Apple Inc. or Cupertino, Calif., to the head-mounted device via a cable or wire. Such a configuration can allow the user to view media on a private display, while the media is provided by a personal handheld device.”
One of the diagrams shows the device being controlled by a remote, suggesting that users can control the content on the screen while they use the display.
The virtual reality (VR) market has been growing at a very fast pace, with big tech firms such as Facebook, Samsung, Google and Microsoft making big moves into the market.
Last year Facebook acquired Oculus Rift VR for $2 billion, Samsung unveiled its Gear VR last year, Google stepped into the market with its Cardboard headset, and Microsoft is at work on its HoloLens augmented reality headset. It is not surprising that Apple would begin work on something similar as well.