• Apple's push for AR hasn't gone unnoticed
  • The company keeps working on AR/VR technologies and offerings
  • A new continuation patent shows the company's commitment to mixed-reality technologies

Apple recently filed a continuation patent that effectively adds new features to an earlier invention. This new patent application describes a mixed-reality headset capable of displaying virtual content in addition to letting users see real-life images.

It’s not a secret that Cupertino tech giant Apple is working on its head-mounted display (HMD) device, currently known as the Apple Glass. Previous reports indicated that this HMD could be designed for augmented reality uses. Its new patent application, however, indicates that the company is also looking to create a mixed-reality headset.

The new patent application, which is actually a continuation patent as per Patently Apple, describes a pair of smartglasses that can operate in virtual reality and mixed reality modes. The device has an outward-facing camera that can be used to capture real-world data and a display used to show varying kinds of data.

How it works

Per the patent, the device can switch between the two modes whenever desirable.

When in virtual reality mode, the device will not use the camera to capture real-world data and will not display any real-world environment or element on the screen. Instead, every environment and element displayed on-screen will be generated by the device (virtual).

When in mixed reality mode, the device will use the camera to capture real-world data and will then present the data it captures to the user via the display. The device will overlay virtual content on real-world environments and elements if needed.

This mixed reality mode sort of resembles how augmented reality glasses work, except that the user isn’t viewing the real world through lenses but via a camera and display.

Per Apple's continuation patent, the device will adjust the display frame rate when transitioning from virtual reality mode to mixed reality mode and back. This will make for smoother transitions while also allowing the device to avoid displaying visible artifacts, which could negatively affect the entire user experience.


As mentioned, Apple's new patent application is a continuation of an older patent, which was granted earlier this year. The continuation patent introduced a few crucial changes to the older one, such as the addition of components and systems used for virtual reality.

Apple patent: Electronic Device With Coordinated Camera and Display Operation
FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of an illustrative electronic device such as a head-mounted device in accordance with an embodiment Apple/USPTO