Apple Patents Google Cardboard-style VR Glasses

Assuming we take a new patent at face value, Apple is aiming to own our eyes as well as our wrists in the wearable market. The patent describes a glasses-style head mount that turns your iPhone into a virtual reality headset.

Apple lands virtual reality headset patentApple lands virtual reality headset patent

Patent 8,957,835 describes a device that users slide their iPhone into, much like Google's Cardboard VR contraption for using Android smartphones for virtual reality experiences. The device also sounds strikingly similar to Samsung's Gear VR headset.

Apple's patent shows a headset with a slot designed to hold an iPhone or iPod to provide video, voice and touch controls, haptic feedback, and picture-in-picture support in case you need to see the outside world along with your virtual environment.

Considering how bulky the device looks, and how cumbersome Gear VR and Oculus Rift are in real life, it isn't likely Apple plans to actually make the device. What's more likely is that Apple wants to lock out competitors from using the features it described, and that many of those features may show up in other products.

Apple could also have gaming in mind for its headset. The device could connect wirelessly to your iPhone or iPad as an immersive gaming interface and movie watching platform. In essence, it could be a form of the long rumored Apple Television, but in a much smaller form factor.

Apple isn't into tipping its hand on unannounced products, so for now there isn't any official word on what may be in store for the company's VR glasses patent. Regardless of Apple's plans, it's a safe bet we won't be seeing people walking around wearing iGlasses any time soon.

[Thanks to Patently Apple for the heads up]

[Some image elements courtesy Shutterstock]