Apple Updates Rumored iPhone-Mounted VR System Patent
Simon Martin posted on June 24, 2016 |

With the hype surrounding virtual reality (VR) experiences, it should come as little surprise that among others who are rumored to be quietly waiting on the sidelines for the perfect opportunity to enter the market is none other than Apple. While the company has been exploring VR headsets and applications for years now, it wasn't until 2016 that conversations and rumors started to get more serious across tech and VR communities.

Back in January, the Financial Times reported that Apple hired Doug Bowman, the director of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction at Virginia Tech, who has VR experience in the realms of gaming, sports, 3D user interfaces and other immersive applications. Bowman joined a growing team of immersive technology experts, including those who joined Apple through various startup acquisition processes.

New patent filings and high-profile hires from across the industry suggest that Apple has plans for an AR or VR headset. (Image courtesy of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.)
New patent filings and high-profile hires from across the industry suggest that Apple has plans for an AR or VR headset. (Image courtesy of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.)

More recently, Apple has updated one of several VR headset-related patents to include a design feature that enables the system to be "worn on a user's head and configured to integrate with a cellular telephone."   

This isn't the first time Apple has updated an existing patent, but it seems to make a lot of sense considering that direct Apple competitor Samsung rushed its version of a VR headset that works with a cell phone in the form of Gear VR.
Many of the patent filings explore various ways of incorporating a separate cell phone into a headset to create a VR experience rather than headsets with independent systems and displays. (Image courtesy of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.)
Many of the patent filings explore various ways of incorporating a separate cell phone into a headset to create a VR experience rather than headsets with independent systems and displays. (Image courtesy of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.)
While it's easy to speculate that Apple is designing its own VR platform, it also makes sense that the company simply just wants to better understand how both users and competitors––which include Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Samsung––are navigating the relatively new VR marketplace. Although some VR headsets have taken off in the market, other experiments––such as Google Glass—failed to meet certain expectations. That said, this wouldn't be the first time that Apple has taken its time to watch how competitors perform in the marketplace before introducing its own product.

Recommended For You