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Apple’s “secret” VR/AR project exposed

After much speculation on what’s keeping Apple busy, a recent patent revealed that the company is indeed working on a glasses-like virtual reality headset. 

The United States Patent and Trademark Office released one of the newest granted patents PDF from the California-based tech company that describes a VR device for a smartphone. The patent entitled ‘Head-Mounted Display (HMD) Apparature For Retaining A Portable Electronic Device With Display’ discussed a device similar to the Gear VR, but the design can cater to users wearing glasses.

Compared to the Samsung’s HMD that accommodates larger smartphones, Apple seems to be working on making their device compatible with smaller screens. According to the patent, if users insert a large size iPhone, the system will automatically adjust the content and make it smaller and in a lower resolution than the actual screen depending on the proximity of the user’s eyes.

“The system is not limited to displaying one image frame,” the patent states. “In some cases, it may be beneficial to provide multiple redundant image frames (dual image frames) in order to implement stereo-like viewing. In cases such as these, the image frames may be displayed at two locations within the display screen. The timing or image characteristics of the dual image frames relative to one another may be varied to provide an enhanced viewing effect.”


Based on the diagram presented in the patent, Apple illustrates a strudy set of glasses rather than a small device like the Google Glass. 

The arms of the wearable plays as the host where there’s a set of built-in dangling earphones and a connected head strap to keep the glasses secure. 

The top portion of the smart glass will house the important parts – processor, memory, sensor, battery, communication circuits and much more. 

The HMD’s other features include a camera on the front, a speaker on the temple, and an area for external ports. There are also jacks and connectors on the side, like the navigation, volume, and display adjustment. 

The presentation also features an additional handheld device that looks like an iPod Shuffle that works as a remote control. 

While it may look final, the design might change given that Apple is working on making everything ‘wireless’ at the moment. They have successfully made the iPhone 7 headphone-jack-free. While many thought the new iPhone would struggle in terms of sales, it has in fact recorded impressive figures. Based on a BGR report, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were able to account for 43% of the company’s sales after 17 days post-launch. 

iPhone 8 compatible

The VR headset has been predicted to be released along with the iPhone 8, as new specifications and design traits are expected to feature on the upcoming Apple handset. 

A variety of leaked information regarding the iPhone 8 revealed a smartphone that is perfectly created for VR headsets – new EarPods, larger processor, wireless and fast charging, and the edge-to-edge screen. More recent news from Computer World suggested that the AR-ready iPhone will come with face recognition as an additional layer of biometric protection. 

"Other features appear to include some form of facial/gesture recognition supported by a new laser sensor and an infrared sensor mounted near the front-facing camera,” said Timothy Arcuri, a Cowen and Company analyst.

Hopefully, Apple will be able to address the security problems and technical glitches faced by Google when they used the same biometric technology in the past.

VR apps

While the company hasn’t released any head-mounted displays yet, a handful of VR gaming apps can be installed for free from the App Store. Most of the VR titles for iOS are taken from movies with great cinematic experiences and graphics.

One of which is the Legendary VR that was developed by the company behind the movies Crimson Peak, Warcraft: The Skies Of Azeroth, and Godzilla. Players will be piloting a Jaeger, the robot used in the Pacific Rim movie, and tasked to fight the towering Kaiju aggressor. This app is compatible with iPhones and can be used on the Google Cardboard. Developers Legend Pictures LLC said they are working on taking Godzilla to the VR studio, too. 

Another sci-fi movie turned VR game is the Terminator VR that was taken from the popular Arnold Schwarzenegger film. According to developer Asylum Bound Games, the game allows players to “explore a future apocalyptic world overrun by machines.” The game offers a similar graphical experience to other commercial licensed Terminator games. While nothing can match the thrill of the Terminator VR, other developers such as slots provider Pocket Fruity were able to collaborate with the franchise for the Terminator 2 game and transform it to offer a whole different gaming experience with the same thrill as the virtual reality titles.

Aside from this app, here are some movies that would translate well to VR:
• The Martian
• The Hunger Games
• The Lion King
• Wild
• School of Rock
• Star Wars

VR or AR?

While everything (patents, startup acquisitions, etc.) seems to be leaning towards VR, Tim Cook dismissed the idea that they are building a virtual reality headset. The Apple CEO said in his interview with Good Morning America that “augmented reality will be bigger than virtual reality.”

"My own view is that augmented reality is the larger of the two, probably by far, because this gives the capability for both of us to sit and be very present talking to each other, but also have other things visually for both of us to see," Cook said. "Maybe it's something we're talking about, maybe it's someone else here that is not here, present, but could be made to appear to be present with us. So there's a lot of really cool things there."

While Apple hasn’t confirmed anything, recent developments seem to be inclined towards the company working on AR glasses rather than a VR device. A recent granted patent for AR maps as well as reports circulating about an Apple/Carl Zeiss AG partnership are all pointing to the tech company secretly developing their first AR head-mounted display. 

Industry experts forecast that the Apple AR smart glasses will be revealed this year along with the iPhone 8, if not, then early 2018.

Shrey Kapoor is a Tech-Enthusiast, Harvard certified Cyber Security and Cyber Forensics Expert. He Founder, which is one of the India's Top Tech News Website. Even Forbes and many other renowned publishers took his articles reference. Shrey is a Technology analyst, strategic thinker and creative writer who is passionate to deliver the best, latest possible Tech-News to his followers and subscribers. He completed his masters in Artificial Intelligence & Robotics, certified in IPR, T.Q.M. & ISO 9001:2008 In Quality Management Systems.

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