Apple has a patent for an iPhone virtual reality headset

Virtual reality is massive, and it seems like everyone is getting involved in one way or another — even Apple. The tech giant has just been awarded a patent for its own virtual reality headset, one that is designed to be powered by the iPhone.

Officially named the “Head-Mounted Display Apparatus for Retaining a Portable Electronic Device with Display”, the patent describes a device similar to Samsung’s Gear VR. The iPhone slots into a pair of goggles and connects to the headset wirelessly to provide a 3D visual experience for the wearer. Because the touchscreen would be indisposed when in use, the patent also details an iPod-style remote control to navigate menus.

This is a slightly odd move from Apple, because CEO Tim Cook has been rather open about how he doesn’t think people will want to wear virtual reality headsets because they’re intrusive. So this patent indicates a couple of things. Firstly it’s almost guaranteed that this move is Apple is covering all its bases and preventing other companies cashing in on its dislike of mobile VR. It might also mean that the direction of the company’s product development is no longer purely based on the personal opinions of the CEO, as it seemed to be during the reign of Steve Jobs.

A patent doesn’t necessarily mean that an actual product is going to be heading our way anytime soon, but it is interesting to know that Apple does have virtual reality at the back of its mind. Who knows, maybe someday iPhone owners will be able to enjoy hassle-free mobile VR.

Tom Pritchard