The US Patent and Trademark office has just published a newly granted Apple patent, that explicitly describes a head mounted display and headset with a particular focus on gaming, meaning Apple has now joined the hallowed ranks of several companies looking to develop technology that can rival Oculus’ Rift headgear.
However, whereas the Rift is clearly designed as a PC peripheral, with potential mobile features to be unveiled down the road, Apple’s device is described as a personal display designed for use with a variety of electronic devices. Apple’s patent pitches it as something consumers could plug into their phone for a full movie experience, or use it to game on the move.
The patent (posted over at Patently Apple) covers various different display types, including dual screens and single alternatives. There’s discussion of options for displays that can tilt and rotate to accurately line up with the viewer’s eyeball, as well as taking into consideration the visual capabilities of the user, thereby displaying a different image to those that are shortsighted and longsighted, discounting the need for glasses or contact lenses. These settings could then be stored in a profile and loaded when a user puts the headset on, theoretically detecting them by their retinas.
This head patent also looks quite similar to one that the fruity firm acquired when it bought out PrimeSense in November – that’s the company that developed the technology behind the Kinect sensor – suggesting Apple’s design could incorporate more tracking potential than the current Rift devkit which has been in the wild for almost a year at this point.
Apple has been working on this sytem for a while though, having filed the patent way back in 2008 under the names of its engineers, thereby keeping it somewhat secret until now. This suggests that Apple could be further along with this development than we might imagine, giving companies like Oculus a real warning of impending competition.
While that’s usually a good thing as it’s great for the consumer – since it drives technology forward and prices down – in the case of Apple, that may be more worrying. While the firm can certainly lay claim to helping popularise the smartphone as a piece of general consumer technology, it has a long history of being a patent troll and buying up trademarks and patents in order to stifle competition. Here’s hoping it doesn’t put a strangle hold on the head-mounted display industry and cripple relatively fledgling companies like Oculus.
KitGuru Says: Seriously Apple I just got my Rift. If you crap on its development I’ll be so mad.