Apple wins patent on goggles with hat tip to Oculus Rift

The iPhone maker's technology includes the ability to view everything from video games to movies with the face-mounted display.

Apple has won a patent that's awfully different from anything the company is selling right now.

Apple on Wednesday was awarded a patent on what is essentially goggles, but might be given a more tech-friendly description as a head-mounted display. The device is worn on a person's face and allows him or her to view everything from video games to movies to television shows. It's designed to work with mobile devices, like the iPhone, as well as an Apple TV, according to Patently Apple, which earlier obtained a copy of the patent award.

Head-mounted displays are nothing new, of course. But perhaps what's most interesting about the Apple invention is that it's a major departure from any other products the company sells. That alone makes it possible that Apple has been testing the technology and despite patenting its design, will not actually launch it.

At first blush, Apple's device looks awfully similar to the Oculus Rift, another head-mounted device that's all the rage in the gaming world right now.

To make its invention unique, however, Apple has integrated biometric features into the device, like fingerprint and retina scanning, to determine which person is wearing it. From there, the device adjusts the goggle system to ensure it provides the proper experience to the user. The patent describes a method by which someone with a prescription could input their measurements, and after identifying themselves, could see the device adjust to reflect their eyesight requirements. That would eliminate the need to wear glasses while using the device.

So, what does the future hold for Apple's head-mounted display technology? There's no way to tell. Like most companies, Apple invents technologies that never see the light of day. It's possible this might end up in that category or hit store shelves in the future.

About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.


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