Apple VR headset patents

In terms of design, an Apple patent suggests that "the goggle system may resemble ski or motorcycle goggles. To enhance the user's comfort, the goggle system may include breathable components, including for example breathable foam that rests against the user's face, and may allow the user to move the display generation components for alignment with the user's eyes. In some embodiments, the goggle system may include data processing circuitry operative to adjust left and right images generated by the optical components to display 3-D media or account for a user's eyesight limitations."

The patent was filed in May 2007, before the iPhone was even released.

Apple AR & VR: Apple VR headset design

Back in December 2013, Apple Patent (USPTO 8,605,008) surfaced. This patent described a head-mounted display. The abstract talks about "A goggle system for providing a personal media viewing experience to a user is provided. The goggle system may include an outer cover, a mid-frame, optical components for generating the media display, and a lens on which the generated media displayed is provided to the user."

Apple AR & VR: Apple patents VR display

Three years later, in October 2016, another Apple patent appeared online depicting the same head mounted display as above, albeit a more refined version. The accompanying text also gives us a better idea of how the VR headset would work:

"A head-mounted device that is worn on a user's head and configured to integrate with a cellular telephone that is removable, the head-mounted device comprising: a frame that is configured to physically receive and carry the cellular telephone, wherein the frame places a display screen of the cellular telephone in front of the user's eyes; and an optical subassembly configured to receive at least one image frame from the display screen of the cellular telephone, wherein the optical subassembly is interposed between the display screen and the user's eyes."

Apple AR & VR: Patent

It's interesting to note the likeliness between Apple's VR headset and a standard pair of glasses, as most VR headsets resemble a ski mask and block out all vision from the sides of your eyes for a more immersive experience. Of course, it's only a patent and the design is likely to change again before it's released - whenever that may be.

Apple AR & VR: Apple patents VR display

Apple VR headset release date rumours

While we're yet to hear anything from Apple, we could see the rumoured VR headset announced as soon as September, alongside the rumoured iPhone 8.

Apple recently put a focus on VR at WWDC 2017 - granted it was more focused towards Mac than iOS, but with the ability for developers to develop Metal 2-based VR games (an engine exclusive to Mac, iPhone and iPad) with macOS High Sierra, fully-fledged VR games for iOS can't be too far behind right? And what better way for Apple to showcase its range of Metal 2-based VR games than with its own iPhone-compatible VR headset (possibly even with Gear VR-esque motion controllers?). 

So, while we're not certain, we're hopeful that Apple will make a VR-related announcement during the upcoming September 2017 presentation.

Read next: How to use a VR headset with an iPhone