Apple just obtained rights to its own virtual reality headset that would turn the iPhone into a head mounted display. US Patent No 8,957,835 was awarded to Apple by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday. News of the patent comes just after an announcement from LG about their partnership with Google to release the next evolution of Google Cardboard on the LG G3. Both will kick off well behind first mover Samsung’s Gear VR.
The patent describes a portable electronic device that could house an iPhone as the display, worn on the head of a user. The iPhone headset would also connect to a remote control, which would allow the user to control the content on the display without having to touch the iPhone itself.
While it’s easy to write this off as a safety play, or an unoriginal copy, it looks like the project has been in the works for quite some time at Apple. They first filed for the patent in September of 2008.
Apple has yet to publicly announce any new VR hardware or software despite the approval of the VR headset’s patent. So for now, this will sit in a big stack of patents pertaining to optics, design, head tracking, and augmented reality, all or none of which could eventually be used in Apple’s entry into virtual reality.