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Apple Glass rumors resurrected thanks to eyeglass hinge patent application

Hypothetical smart glasses

The Apple Glass concept has seemingly resurfaced in a patent application discussing a potential hinge mechanism for the long-rumored headgear.

Following the introduction of the Apple Vision Pro, the rumor mill has previously speculated that smart glasses could be on the way. Made to be thinner than a typical VR or AR headset, Apple Glass rumors positioned the device as a lightweight AR platform that's closer in form to spectacles.

In a patent application surfacing on Thursday and originally filed on February 14, 2024, Apple offers a description of a "Dual-Axis Hinge Mechanism."

The patent filing, like all of them ever filed with the USPTO, is incredibly dry. But, there are repeated mentions of "eyewear" in the filing, meaning it is meant for glasses.

It describes how a hinge could move arms from a folded position to a nominal position, and a hyperextended setting. To glasses wearers, this means having arms that can go wider than the typical open position, allowing for use by people with larger heads, or perhaps to prevent damage when opened wider than the frame might otherwise allow.

Technical drawing featuring multiple views and labeled components of an electromechanical device, including side views and a detailed view of a coiled mechanism.
Images from Apple's hinge patent application

The filing adds that, in the minimized and nominal positions, the eyewear minimizes exposure of electronic components. The hinge is also meant to automatically snap between multiple stable positions, and to apply a "clamping force to a wide array of heads."

As part of the design, it also allows for cables to be fed through the hinge, allowing for the main section of the eyewear to work with components on the arms. For example, speakers in earpieces.

The patent application is clearly for glasses and not a headset like Apple Vision Pro with straps and other gear to keep a device on the user's head.

While Apple does file numerous patent applications, there's no guarantee that it will be included in a future product or service. It does, however, show areas of interest for the company's research and development efforts.

A future Apple Glass

The Apple Vision Pro is Apple's first foray into headset design, but it's far from the final destination. Following the mixed-reality headset, speculation states that Apple will continue to build lighter and cheaper revisions, with smart glasses being one potential destination.

Doing so would require a lot of work on Apple's part. Chiefly, this means creating some form of display that can be seen by the user at such a close range, while still allowing vision of the outside world.

Power and processing are also trouble spots, since they both require weight and space in the smart glasses design.

Apple is reportedly keen to push forward with new wearables, following on from the Apple Watch and AirPods, and smart glasses could be a new introduction. However, it may provide informational and audio features, rather than a full-blown augmented reality experience.

The project has seen some issues over time, with Apple seemingly shelving Apple Glass in 2023 to focus on its mixed-reality headset launch.

Even so, it is currently anticipated that Apple could introduce a smart glasses product by 2026 or 2027.