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Apple takes a page from Samsung, patents Gear VR-like headset for the iPhone

How the headset would work is not described in the patent.

Published onJune 19, 2023

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Oliver Cragg / Android Authority
  • Apple secured a patent for a new head-mounted display.
  • The patent describes a goggle-like accessory that encases an iPhone or iPad.
  • The device is reminiscent of Samsung’s retired Gear VR headset.

It appears Apple is going all in on mixed reality technology. In addition to the recently announced Vision Pro, it’s believed the Cupertino firm is working on a more affordable version of the device. But that may not be the only headset the company is working on, according to a new patent.

As discovered by ZDNET, Apple secured a new patent this week. The patent in question shows a head-mounted display (HMD) style accessory capable of housing an iPhone or iPad. Reportedly, the device would be able to operate like an iPhone or iPad-powered mixed-reality headset.

The accessory is described as something that looks like a pair of goggles with an adjustable strap attached. The user’s iPhone or iPad would fit in the front where the receptacle is located.

If this sounds a little familiar, you wouldn’t be mistaken. Back in 2015, Samsung launched a smartphone-powered system called the Gear VR. Unlike other headsets, the Gear VR relied on an Android phone to act as both the display and processor, while the device itself acted as a controller. However, it was later discontinued in 2020.

It’s important to point out that a patent doesn’t guarantee that the product is coming. There are plenty of patents that never end up seeing the light of day. Essentially, all this patent means is Apple’s engineers are thinking about this.

With the announcement of the Vision Pro and a launch date of 2024, Apple is encouraging developers to help it build out a mixed-reality ecosystem. But with a $3,500 price tag, there likely won’t be many people capable of taking advantage of this experience. However, that would change with a more affordable headset, and a device like the one in the patent would eliminate that barrier of entry.

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