Apple continuing research on how an iPhone could slot into an 'Apple Glass' headset

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Apple is continuing to refine the concept of how an augmented reality wearable device like "Apple Glass" could be made to use an iPhone as its head-mounted display.

And you thought Google Glass was unsightly. In the future, we may be strapping our iPhones in front of our eyes.

It's not that Apple sees the iPhone as a potential replacement for "Apple Glass," more that it is looking to see how users can leverage all of their devices. An iPhone has a particularly good display, so maybe there are situations where you could comfortable have one placed in front of your eyes.

"Head-Mounted Display Apparatus for Retaining a Portable Electronic Device with Display ," is a newly-revealed patent application that examines the benefits of doing this. It's not the first time Apple has researched this, either.

Apple has been investigating different approaches to a head-mounted display for at least the best part of the last decade, too. What this latest version offers is that it posits we'll use an iPhone as a headset only occasionally.

"Using head-mounted devices, a user may view media provided by a portable electronic device," says the patent application. "For example, a user may couple a personal electronic device, such as the iPod.TM. available from Apple Inc. of Cupertino, Calif., or the iPhone.TM. also available from Apple Inc. of Cupertino, Calif., to the head-mounted device via a cable or wire."

"Such a configuration can allow the user to view media on a private display, while the media is provided by a personal handheld device," it continues. "Sometimes, however, a wired connection may be inconvenient and cumbersome for the user in certain situations (e.g., the user must separately hold multiple devices and deal with cables)."

"In addition to being unwieldy, the coupled system often utilizes redundant features, which are not necessary when using the devices together," says the patent application. "By way of example, each device utilizes a display screen, which adds cost, size, weight, and complexity to the entire system."

The iPhone in place in
The iPhone in place in "Apple Glass," plus remote control

The patent application actually discusses many different configurations of using an iPhone or iPod as the source of the video or image being watched. Each, though, is concerned with producing a system that "temporarily integrates or merges both mechanically and electronically a head-mounted device with a portable electronic device."

If Apple expected anyone to solely slot the iPhone into the "Apple Glass" device and use just that, it could sell bare spectacle frames. And one description in this patent application is for exactly that, "[a] frame that is configured to physically receive and carry a portable electronic device."

The rest of the patent is concerned with how the iPhone, or other device, can recognize that has been connected to a head-mounted display. That involves, for instance, automatically "adjusting the image based content displayed on the screen for close up viewing."

This patent application is credited to two inventors, including Christopher D. Prest. His previous work includes a patent application concerning an all-glass iPhone with wraparound touchscreen.


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