Apple’s upcoming “Apple Glasses” could be modular rather than an all-in-one unit based on a newly granted patent (number 20200201042) for a “modular system for a head-mounted display.”
The graphics accompanying the patent show AR glasses that look like normal eyeglasses. However, the “arm modules” could be removed and replaced with other arm modules that perform other functions.
In the patent data, the tech giant notes that head-mounted device can be worn by a user to display visual information within the field of view of the user. The head-mounted device can be used as a virtual reality (VR) system, an augmented reality (AR) system, and/or a mixed reality (MR) system. A user may observe outputs provided by the head-mounted device, such as visual information provided on a display. The display can optionally allow a user to observe an environment outside of the head-mounted device.
As for the modular aspect, Apple says that other outputs provided by the head-mounted device can include audio output and/or haptic feedback. A user may further interact with the head-mounted device by providing inputs for processing by one or more components of the head-mounted device. For example, the user can provide tactile inputs, voice commands, and other inputs while the device is mounted to the user’s head.
When it comes to Apple Glasses, such a device will arrive next year or 2022, depending on which rumor you believe. It will be a head-mounted display. Or may have a design like “normal” glasses. Or it may be available in both. The Apple Glasses may or may not have to be tethered to an iPhone to work. Other rumors say that Apple Glasses could have a custom-build Apple chip and a dedicated operating system dubbed “rOS” for “reality operating system.”
Here’s Apple’s summary of the patent: “Head-mounted devices can be formed as a modular system that provides a variety of different components and functions to achieve the results that are desired by a user. The modular configurations allow a user to easily customize a head-mounted device with one or more arm modules to provide features that integrate with other operations of the frame module of the head-mounted device.
“The arm modules can be easily exchanged with each other to provide different components and functions at different times. Accordingly, a frame module of a head-mounted device need not include permanent components that provide every function that will later be desired by the user. Instead, the head-mounted device can have expanded and customizable capabilities by the use of one or more arm modules.”