Apple may not yet have officially announced its plans for the much-hyped Apple AR/VR headset hardware, but its recent patents are apparently revealing some of its plans – with the latest teasing a new way to use the Apple Watch to control a headset.
How users control AR experiences is an area that many companies have tried, with some having more success than others. Google’s original Google Glass headphones introduced weird head movements and Nreal Air glasses forced you to use your smartphone – a difficult task when you really can’t see it with the glasses on. The only company to crack it so far is Meta with their Oculus Quest 2 (opens in new tab) AR features rely on regular controllers or manual tracking, making for a much smoother experience.
Apple decided to take a different path. Based on a recent patent application (discovered by patented apple (opens in new tab)) Apple will apparently reinvent the wheel with a setup that relies on a headset user strapping two Apple Watch-like devices together — one on each wrist. While not explicitly called Apple Watches, the diagrams look much similar to the California tech giant’s smartwatch, complete with touchscreen and digital crowns.
When a watch is in each hand, wearables will be able to use their electrodes to track gestures and various points of contact on people’s palms so they can control what they see on an Apple AR/VR headset.
However, if you’re struggling to choose between two of the best Apple Watch options, don’t take this as your green light to buy both.
First, as with all patents – especially for first-of-its-kind hardware – there’s no guarantee that we’ll see Apple go down that road with its technology. It might just be patenting the design before someone else can keep their options open (or keep people on the scent of their real plans).
Second, there is no guarantee that the Apple Watch 7 or any other Apple smartwatch currently available will be compatible with what this patent states. Until Apple explains its plans publicly, you may find that this feature is exclusive to the Apple Watch 8 and later.
Ultimately, that wearable controller might not even need to be an Apple Watch. While we expect Apple to guarantee that its smartwatch can be used as a controller, we expect it to introduce a cheaper alternative wearable that works just as well. Based on the patent, the wrist-based device only needs some of the Apple Watch’s functions, not all of them – potentially paving the way for a streamlined (and cheaper) add-on.
We’ll have to wait and see what Apple announces, but with the Apple AR/VR headset not expected until next year and Apple Glasses even further away, we can wait a bit.
Looking for something you can do with your Apple Watch today? Here are the best Apple Watch apps of 2022.