New Apple AR/VR headset patent suggests it might not need an external reference point for location data

Oculus headset
Oculus headset (Image credit: Oculus)

What you need to know

  • Apple continues to work on a headset of some sort, with a new patent related to exactly that.
  • The patent suggests external location markers might not be needed.
  • This seems to be mainly used to detect when a headset is being worn or taking off.

Apple appears to still be working on some form of AR/VR headset based on a new patent spotted by Apple Insider. The patent, carrying US Patent No. 10,557,724, could allow the headset to recognize when it is being worn or taken off.

"[It] may be beneficial for the VR headset to be able to detect when a head-worn device (e.g., headset, eyeglasses, headphones, etc.) is being removed from the user's head, is being placed on the user's head, or both," according to the patent.

Most current headsets of this ilk are not able to detect when they are, or are not, being worn. Apple seems of the opinion that such a feature would be helpful in multiple ways, not least the fact that the headset would be able to save power when it detects it has been removed.

"[A headset] can be configured to generate one or more signals indicative of its state," the patent notes. "The controller can receive the one or more signals and can perform one or more actions in response to the signals. Exemplary actions can include, but are not limited to, turning one or more components on or off."

It isn't clear whether this patent could also allow the headset to track its own location in 3D space, removing the need for external reference points, however.

Apple has been heavily rumored to have plans to launch a headset or glasses of some sort, but with analysts suggesting it could happen as soon as next year, we're still waiting for any concrete information. In the meantime, patents like this will just have to suffice.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.