Apple Vision Pro may gain detachable controllers


New patent application shows potential controllers for Apple Vision Pro



Apple is researching ways to create accessories such as an Apple Pencil-like controller for the Apple Vision Pro, which attach to an accessory headset strap for power and data.

Think of it like sticking a pencil behind your ear. But instead of doing that while you think, you do it so that the Apple Pencil-like device can be charged.

In that sense, it’s also like the way that the Apple Pencil can be charged by magnetically attaching it to an iPad Pro. But if Apple is thinking of just one Apple Pencil for the headset, a new patent application lays the ground for many, many different types of attachable accessories.

These accessories would all be about the ability to “gather user input and to supply output,” but for most of the patent application, Apple refers to them all as “handheld controllers.” While the Apple Vision Pro can now famously be used with just hand gestures, it can also benefit from finer controls.

“A handheld controller may, as an example, include an inertial measurement unit with an accelerometer for gathering information on controller motions,” says Apple, “such as swiping motions, waving motions, writing movements, drawing movements, shaking motions, rotations, etc.”

One suggested accessory for Apple Vision Pro is a kind of Apple Pencil

One suggested accessory for Apple Vision Pro is a kind of Apple Pencil

“[They] may include wireless communications circuitry for communicating with external equipment such as a head-mounted device,” continues the patent application, “may include tracking features such as active or passive visual markers that can be tracked with an optical sensor in an external electronic device, may include input devices such as touch sensors, force sensors, buttons, knobs, wheels, etc..”

“The handheld controller may include a haptic output device to provide the user’s hands with haptic output,” proposes Apple, “and may include other output components such as one or more speakers.”

It’s really patent-speak with Apple, like all firms applying for patents, attempts to be precise enough to be patentable, but broad enough to help fend off future rivals. But regardless of how broad the descriptions of accessories are, Apple gets more specific about how they would attach and perhaps be powered by the Apple Vision Pro.

“The power source may be incorporated into an electronic device such as a wireless charging dock or stick, a battery case, or a head-mounted device,” it says.

Detail from the patent showing a possible separate dock for accessories

Detail from the patent showing a possible separate dock for accessories

There are also illustrations of potential charging docks that are separate from the Apple Vision Pro, but then there’s this. “Magnets may be used to temporarily store and/or charge a handheld controller on the head strap or main housing portion of the head-mounted device.”

It’s very easy to take the regular strap off Apple Vision Pro, and only a little more fiddly to add the Developer Strap. Apple wants to make using other accessories be even simpler than either of these.

Detail from the patent showing an accessory and what appears to be a USB-C connector

Detail from the patent showing an accessory and what appears to be a USB-C connector

“[For Apple Vision Pro,] magnetic attachment structures may hold [the accessory] device against an exterior surface of [the headset] device,” it says, “(e.g., against a portion of the housing of a pair of goggles or glasses such as along the frame of a pair of glasses, to the front, top, or side surface of a pair of goggles, etc.).”

This patent application is credited to seven inventors, including Paul X. Wang. His previous related work includes a proposal for an AR headset being modular and expandable.



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