Apple's plans for virtual, mixed, and augmented reality have remained a mystery for some time, but now we at least have some idea of what they're thinking about. UploadVR uncovered a patent showing a VR headset design that looks like a thick pair of sunglasses and utilizes an iPhone to provide an experience similar to the Samsung Gear VR.
According to the patent, the head-mounted virtual reality display will connect to your iPhone with a built-in Lightning connector and provide audio through built-in earbuds. We don't know much more than that, but given Apple's admitted interest in augmented reality, it's fun to guess what else this device might do.
Perhaps they'll make use of the dual cameras anticipated on one of the newer iPhone models to understand depth and allow for both virtual and mixed reality experiences. This may also be one of the reasons why Apple is nixing the headphone jack on the iPhone 7, since the headset has built-in earbuds.
Of course, this is just a patent. Whether it becomes an actual product remains to be seen, but it's nice to have a small look at what Apple's thinking about in preparation for the day they reveal their take on this new technology—even if it's hard to fathom this thing staying on your head comfortably. Apple, historically, likes to wait for the market to mature before making a play, but with the speed at which these headsets are hitting the market, they may need to get something out of the door sooner than later.
With their lack of focus on gaming on the Mac, and quite the opposite on iOS, it makes sense to see them jump into virtual reality through their smartphones before anything else. Perhaps we'll see more of their plan on September 7 when they reveal the iPhone 7. That's unlikely given the timing of this patent, but it would be a nice surprise.