Possible Apple AR Headset Surfaces Once More In Patents

by Jamie Feltham • July 31st, 2017

At this point Apple’s interest in AR is well-documented; the company’s upcoming ARKit platform, due to arrive with iOS 11, is likely a precursor to something much bigger. A new patent from the company published this month shows you exactly what bigger could be.

The patent discloses a method of displaying points of interest in the real world using AR. Through the screen of an iPhone, for example, you might be able to spot iconic landmarks in a city, similar to something we’ve already seen from one iOS developer. The idea itself is hugely promising and is shown multiple times throughout the patent, with a tablet at one point recognising and virtually labelling the various features of the interior of a car. But later diagrams show something more interesting: the same system running on an AR headset.

Two images in the patent (above and below) show a user wearing this headset, with the one below showing them interacting with the virtual imagery using their hands, too.

The patent goes on to describe these images as showcasing ‘semi-transparent’ screens for a head-mounted display as an example of a ‘state of the art’ application of its technology. The points of interest are shown on the display and a user can move a finger to overlap the corresponding annotations to interact with them. The patent does note that this method of input can occlude virtual images, though, and that using your hand for a long period of time can be uncomfortable.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen an AR headset or something similar mentioned in Apple’s patents, though it is the first time we’ve seen a potential form of input listed. With ARKit already showcasing a lot of great AR content, we can easily envision Apple one day releasing a headset to compete with the likes of HoloLens and Magic Leap. Right now if feels more like a question of when rather than if.

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  • TimothyStone

    Let’s hope it’s more than just a better “Google Glass”, because right now, that’s all it looks like. By the time this is out, Hololens will end it. This does however have the fleet of Apple Ecosystem devices and for that it’s interesting, but if it’s wired then I am not interested. Hololens doesn’t need any device, but will probably work with your iphone and your Android phone and do so wirelessly, which for me is superior.

    • NooYawker

      Hololens is superior because there’s an actual product. It has no equal. I have no idea what Apple has in store but I hope it’s good. As for being better than google glass, literally anything is better than google glass. It was a ridiculous looking and basically put a camera on you and little much else.

  • Ted Joseph

    I truly believe its a race to have the most powerful AR headset that looks like a pair of reading or sunglasses, with the largest FOV possible while concealing the tech! This is why people wont wear google glass or the hololens to work, school, or out in public. The first one to achieve this will be the massive winner!

    • TimothyStone

      I would be very surprised if this isn’t Hololens 3.0 coming in 2019.

  • Piasecznik

    How is it possible to patent something already done many times in the past? AR POIs were available like 6 years ago on Windows Mobile 7.