Rumors of some Google Glass-style AR/VR specs in development at Apple have been swirling for a while now, but we now have a better idea of what this gadget might actually look like, courtesy of a new Apple patent that's just arrived in the public domain.
As spotted by PatentlyApple, the patent shows an "Optical System for Head-mounted Display", a series of lenses designed to point images into the wearer's eyes, wrapped in a unit that's intended to be less bulky and less heavy than some of the other headsets we've already seen in action.
The technical term for it is a catadioptric optical system: borrowed from telescopes, it focuses light in a very compact way, as well as removing that chromatic aberration effect, where you get fringes of colors outside the objects you're looking at in VR or AR.
As per the patent application filed by Apple, the device would have both head-tracking in 3D space (so no need to put sensors around your room) as well as eye-tracking to catch where your gaze is pointing (useful for adding depth and realism to a scene).
Apple is keeping its options wide open in terms of input-output options for the glasses – everything from ambient light sensors to track pad control gets a mention – but it sounds like the company's primary focus is on keeping this gadget light and comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.
Now as with any patent it's important to note that these applications don't always make it to market, but AR and VR is obviously very important to Apple, and it looks very much like they'll be launching some smart specs eventually, if its engineers can come up with a design that works.