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Apple has been working on an augmented reality headset according to a slew of previous rumors and patent filings. A set of new patent filings published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday hint at significant features such as wireless recharging and ultrasonic imaging.
Apple Glass Wireless Charging
Apple’s latest patent describes how a wireless charging system could be embedded into an AR headset, dubbed the “Display system” in the patent. The patent mentions using wireless charging coils that wrap around the headset and charges as the user is wearing the device.
When it is not being used, the patent suggests the headset could be placed in a dock that would charge the device while it is idle. An embedded magnet may help the headset sit securely into the charging dock.
Apple Glass Ultrasonic Sensing
Being able to detect objects around the user is critical to a successful virtual reality system. Existing systems use cameras, but they are error-prone, often misjudging the distance of items or failing to detect mirrors.
In Apple’s Ultrasonic Sensor patent, the company describes an ultrasonic sensor that transmits ultrasonic pulses into the surrounding area, much like a radar. The system could use multiple sensors to create a detailed 3-D model of the user’s surroundings.
Apple Glass Adjustable Support Structures
In its “Electronic Device with Adjustable Support Structures” patent application, Apple describes an adjustable support structure that is designed to fit comfortably on a wide variety of head shapes and sizes. The system uses a support piece that rests against the forehead and is flanked by two sections that rest against the cheeks and temples. These sections can stretch and flex in response to a user’s facial structures. The headset may use combinations of inflatable structures, stretchy elastomer structures, telescoping layers, and posts.
Apple Glass Lenses
According to another patent published on Thursday, Apple may be working on a lens system where the lens is attached to the display using an adhesive. Not only does this simplify the operation of the headset, but it also could reduce production costs.
These patents and the others before it suggest Apple is continuing to invest in the development of an AR/VR/MR headset. It is not known when such a headset would launch, but most analysts believe it likely will launch in the coming year or two.