The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today published 63 patents that have been granted to Apple, but one of the most interesting is for a futuristic headband that could have wide-ranging implications for Apple’s future wearables.
The patent describes a headband that sports its own set of audio output and haptic feedback components. While Apple has long been rumored to be working on various wearable tech, this is the first time we’ve seen anything that resembles a device in this specific form factor.
Basically, it’s a wearable headset that’s secured to a user by way of an elastic headband.
At least one portion of the patent also describes wireless communications hardware, which means that the audio output components could be used for phone calls or to communicate with a digital assistant.
But while the wearable headband device is interesting on its own, the technology described in the patent could also be used in a range of future Apple products.
For example, the headband could just be one component of Apple’s long-rumored augmented or mixed reality glasses.
- It could provide haptic feedback for navigating AR experiences. One example given is that a user could “feel” when a car is passing by them. Another example is a haptic feedback on the right or left side of a user’s head to indicate direction in a navigation app.
- Alternatively, the headband could be the cellular and audio component of said AR glasses. In other words, it would allow an AR headset wearer to listen to audio, communicate with Siri, or make phone calls from the device.
- It may even use its haptic feedback to augment sound, perhaps allowing users to “feel” a track’s bass better.
But the patent also describes other use case scenarios. The audio and haptic technology, for example, could be incorporated into head-worn audio accessories — like Apple’s rumored premium over-ear headphones, or perhaps a future version of AirPods.
Of course, Apple files for patents regularly and not all of them end up being used in consumer products. Similarly, just because Apple is developing this technology now doesn’t mean that we’ll see a device that implements it anytime soon.
Still, the patent describes a technology that could be used in a wide range of current and upcoming wearable products. And, more than that, it hints at the company’s ambitions in that sphere.
Apple’s wearables, like AirPods or the Apple Watch, are some of the firm’s most successful and praised devices. But it seems like Apple is far from done in the wearables market, and future devices could be even more groundbreaking than the ones we’ve already seen.