Apple applies for yet another head-mounted AR display patent

Apple has applied for yet another patent for an augmented reality (AR) headset. Patent filing number 20180039052 is for an “optical system for head-mounted display.”

The invention involves a head-mounted display that includes a display system and an optical system. Head-mounted displays such as virtual reality glasses use lenses to display images for a user. A microdisplay may create images for each of a user's eyes. A lens may be placed between each of the user's eyes and a portion of the microdisplay so that the user may view virtual reality content. 

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However, in the patent filing, Apple says that, if care is not taken, a head-mounted display may be cumbersome and tiring to wear. Optical systems for head-mounted displays may use arrangements of lenses that are bulky and heavy. Extended use of a head-mounted display with this type of optical system may be uncomfortable. Apple thinks it can come up with a better solution than current AR glasses.

This isn’t Apple’s first patent regarding head-mounted displays (HMDs). The company has been granted several patents for such technology. In January the Financial Times reported that Apple has "assembled a large team of experts in virtual and augmented reality and built prototypes of headsets...". 

In a June 2017 blog post, venture capitalist Gene Munster says iPhone growth will peak in fiscal year 2019, then slowly decline as “Apple Glasses” emerge. He thinks those glasses, an AR-focused wearable, will be released mid-fiscal year 2020. 

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.