Apple wins patent for a head-mounted iPhone virtual reality display

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited February 2015
In a concept similar to Samsung's Gear VR, Apple has been awarded a patent for a device that would allow an iPhone to serve as the display for a portable virtual reality headset.




The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Apple U.S. Patent No. 8,957,835, entitled "Head-Mounted Display Apparatus for Retaining a Portable Electronic Device with Display." It describes a portable electronic device that could have an iPhone inserted into it and worn on the user's head.

The iPhone maker first filed for the invention in September of 2008. In its application, the company noted that a wired connection to a head-mounted display could prove inconvenient.

The company's solution "temporarily integrates or merges both mechanically and electronically a head-mounted device with a portable electronic device." Illustrations accompanying the patent show a new head-mounted hardware accessory that would have an iPhone inserted into it.

"The frame may place a display screen of the portable electronic device in front of the user's eyes," the patent reads. "The display screen of the portable electronic device may act as the primary display screen of the head-mounted device."

Apple's concept also includes a remote control that the user could keep in their hand, allowing them to manipulate the content on the screen while their eyes are obscured by the iPhone display.




The invention from Apple is very similar to the Gear VR launched by Samsung late last year. That product uses the company's Galaxy Note 4 "phablet" smartphone to power a head-worn virtual reality accessory.

Samsung's Gear VR was designed in collaboration with Oculus, makers of the beta Rift VR headset. The Gear VR is also a beta product at the moment, allowing developers to test and create applications for the new device.

Samsung is also dabbling in the virtual reality space with Project Beyond, a 360-degree camera for recording VR content. Unveiled last fall, Project Beyond allows Gear VR users to view content generated from the 3D capturing device, which relies on 16 full-HD cameras.




Apple, however, has shown less public interest in virtual reality. Despite the newly awarded patent, the company has yet to signal it has any proprietary virtual reality hardware or software in the works.

Still, in terms of intellectual property, the Cupertino, Calif., company has patented a number of inventions related to optics, design and accessories. The company also owns properties dealing with head tracking and augmented reality.

The latest Apple head-mounted display patent is credited to inventor Quin C. Hoellwarth.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    How many of us will try to hold their iPhone up close to their face after reading this? I did. Felt weird and there would have to be some sort of software to account for the blurriness...
  • Reply 2 of 29
    The trolls are going to have a heyday with this patent claiming Apple copied Samsung.

    Until they see the filing date of 2008. BAM
  • Reply 3 of 29
    wovelwovel Posts: 956member
    The trolls are going to have a heyday with this patent claiming Apple copied Samsung.

    Until they see the filing date of 2008. BAM

    Trolls will not allow facts or reality get in their way...
  • Reply 4 of 29
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post



    The trolls are going to have a heyday with this patent claiming Apple copied Samsung.



    Until they see the filing date of 2008. BAM

     

    Yes, obviously, patents are granted within a month of filing ;-). Wonder if this would be a problem for Samsung marketing in the US though :-).

  • Reply 5 of 29
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,278member
    The trolls are going to have a heyday with this patent claiming Apple copied Samsung.

    Until they see the filing date of 2008. BAM
    http://www.cnet.com/news/the-history-of-samsungs-gear-vr-virtual-reality-headset/
    "The system made its debut in September 2014. But the history of Gear VR goes back to 2005, when Samsung obtained a patent on a headset holding an open clamshell phone. Still, an official team was only assembled when the processing power of smartphones caught up to the power required for VR -- when the Galaxy S4 was launched in 2013"
  • Reply 6 of 29

    The patent has an optical assembly as one of its claims but I don't see anything about head tracking, VR or augmented reality. Still, if Apple wanted they could use this patent as a way to go after Google Cardboard or the Samsung Gear VR. I think it would be inadvisable though. Considering how far behind the pack in VR and AR that Apple is at this moment, it would be better if they used the patent to trade with the leaders of the pack (Facebook, Microsoft and Google).

  • Reply 7 of 29
    Apple 'wins' patent for a head-mounted iPhone virtual reality display

    Wins? Other companies filed for same patent?? :-p
  • Reply 8 of 29
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    http://www.cnet.com/news/the-history-of-samsungs-gear-vr-virtual-reality-headset/

    "The system made its debut in September 2014. But the history of Gear VR goes back to 2005, when Samsung obtained a patent on a headset holding an open clamshell phone. Still, an official team was only assembled when the processing power of smartphones caught up to the power required for VR -- when the Galaxy S4 was launched in 2013"

     

    You have any links to patents that describe a headset with a slide in smartphone? Like the Samsung Gear VR or this Apple patent?

  • Reply 9 of 29
    tjwaltjwal Posts: 404member
    How many of us will try to hold their iPhone up close to their face after reading this? I did. Felt weird and there would have to be some sort of software to account for the blurriness...

    Close to your face? If you look at Figure 7, it is imbedded in your face!
  • Reply 10 of 29
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,278member
    You have any links to patents that describe a headset with a slide in smartphone? Like the Samsung Gear VR or this Apple patent?
    Here's a great resource where you can check for yourself. You can restrict searches to specific keywords or phrases and even specify the patent owner.

    There's years worth of work on VR and VR headsets dating back 20 years or more as you'll quickly see. It's a worthwhile look if you have any real interest in it.
    http://www.google.com/advanced_patent_search

    ...or you could use Bing or DDG's version of patent search
  • Reply 11 of 29
    scottyltd wrote: »
    Apple 'wins' patent for a head-mounted iPhone virtual reality display
    Wins? Other companies filed for same patent?? :-p

    A lot of patents are a joke: awarded just for an ugly drawing on paper, without any study nor prototype (this applies to all companies).

    Basically the patents an idea, and it should not be allowed, else I could patent the mind-controlled smartphone, with some ugly-enough drawing and waiting for the future, to sue someone that actually invents it.
  • Reply 12 of 29
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,114member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    http://www.cnet.com/news/the-history-of-samsungs-gear-vr-virtual-reality-headset/
    "The system made its debut in September 2014. But the history of Gear VR goes back to 2005, when Samsung obtained a patent on a headset holding an open clamshell phone. Still, an official team was only assembled when the processing power of smartphones caught up to the power required for VR -- when the Galaxy S4 was launched in 2013"
    So one eye was looking at a low-res display while the other was looking at...a keypad?

    That's the thing about anything Google, it just smells of shit & excuses.
  • Reply 13 of 29
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,278member
    mcdave wrote: »
    So one eye was looking at a low-res display while the other was looking at...a keypad?

    That's the thing about anything Google, it just smells of shit & excuses.
    The article wasn't about Google. It's Samsung. :\
  • Reply 14 of 29
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,114member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    The article wasn't about Google. It's Samsung. :\
    Some of it must have worn off!
  • Reply 15 of 29
    xixoxixo Posts: 417member

    Google prior art:

     

    note the iconic "this end up" on the side of the 'device' for typical android users

  • Reply 16 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by xixo View Post

     

    Google prior art:

     

    note the iconic "this end up" on the side of the 'device' for typical android users

     




    This patent is interesting given that the iPhone screens are so small.  I mean ... most iPhone users should be ok as their eyes are abnormally close together but this should work now for Android fans (who have normally spaced eyes) too now that the bigger iPhone 6+ is available.

  • Reply 17 of 29
    The American patent system totally isn't broken when Apple are awarded a patent on a product they never produced, and there is prior art on sale. Laughable really.
  • Reply 18 of 29
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,114member
    The American patent system totally isn't broken when Apple are awarded a patent on a product they never produced, and there is prior art on sale. Laughable really.
    Not really. The patent was filed in 2008, more than long enough for Samsung to copy it and slap something together that never works well.
    It would be a great way of Apple to get their clueless and innovation-incapable competition to run around in circles though.
  • Reply 19 of 29
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,449member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post



    http://www.cnet.com/news/the-history-of-samsungs-gear-vr-virtual-reality-headset/

    "The system made its debut in September 2014. But the history of Gear VR goes back to 2005, when Samsung obtained a patent on a headset holding an open clamshell phone. Still, an official team was only assembled when the processing power of smartphones caught up to the power required for VR -- when the Galaxy S4 was launched in 2013"

    Rather than hearsay from a company as well-respected as Samsung [cough, choke, puke], we really would just like to see a link to the relevant Samsung patent from 2005. I don't see any such patent cited in the references for Apple's new patent, and it would surely be frowned upon (understatement of the year) by the USPTO if Apple had omitted mention of a relevant patent in their application.

     

    Set us straight, Gatorguy. Did I miss the citation or is Samsung full of sh!t?

  • Reply 20 of 29
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,278member
    cpsro wrote: »
    Rather than hearsay from a company as well-respected as Samsung [cough, choke, puke], we really would just like to see a link to the relevant Samsung patent from 2005. I don't see any such patent cited in the references for Apple's new patent, and it would surely be frowned upon (understatement of the year) by the USPTO if Apple had omitted mention of a relevant patent in their application.

    Set us straight, Gatorguy. Did I miss the citation or is Samsung full of sh!t?
    In a quick search I didn't find the particular patent either. Perhaps it wasn't even a US patent which would make the search difficult. Perhaps there was no patent in the first place. Maybe the articles author would know. Did you consider asking him?
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