The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Apple U.S. Patent No. 8,957,835, entitled “Head-Mounted Display Apparatus for Retaining a Portable Electronic Device with Display.” It describes a portable electronic device that could have an iPhone inserted into it and worn on the user’s head.
The file has been originally filed way back in 2008
The company’s solution “temporarily integrates or merges both mechanically and electronically a head-mounted device with a portable electronic device.” Illustrations accompanying the patent show a new head-mounted hardware accessory that would have an iPhone inserted into it. c
“The frame may place a display screen of the portable electronic device in front of the user’s eyes,” the patent reads. “The display screen of the portable electronic device may act as the primary display screen of the head-mounted device.”
Apple’s concept also includes a remote control that the user could keep in their hand, allowing them to manipulate the content on the screen while their eyes are obscured by the iPhone display.
This is just a patent, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever see a product come from the invention. It’s entirely possible that Apple looked at phone-based VR and put it back on the shelf due to business or technical limitations, at least at the time the patent was relatively fresh. However, this would open the door to an iPhone-centric VR display without legal hassles from other companies