New Patent Reveals Apple Exploring Wearable Computing Devices

A new patent, spotted by The Next Web, granted to Apple this week shows that the company is exploring the wearable computing territory, which Google recently entered with its Google Glass project.

The patent, filed back in 2006, is titled “Peripheral treatment for head-mounted displays,” and deals with a few known problems associated with current head-mounted displays (HUD).

The problem, as described in the patent:

[T]he image on the display in front of each eye fills the central but not the peripheral field of view of the user. Consequently, the visual experience is similar to looking into a box or tunnel having a small screen at a distance. Peripheral vision is good at detecting motion and as a result, occluded peripheral vision in HMDs can cause a user to experience motion sickness symptoms after some time.

Apple’s solution to this problem is to take color indications from the image currently being projected onto the user’s eye, and light LEDs with the corresponding color around the periphery of the display, so that the difference between the “virtual” and real word minimizes, thereby making the HMD easier to use for a long time without discomfort.


The fictional device described in the patent, emulates the functioning of the eye by projecting stereoscopic images onto two displays, one for each eye, introducing a perception of depth.

In the span of six years since the filing of this patent, there has been a lot of news related to Apple and wearable computing. The company’s filed other patents in this field, hired a person specializing in wearable computing, and there have of course been rumors about the company working on this internally.

Steve Jobs himself shot down an idea very similar to the Google Glass project.

As goes with every patent, this isn’t solid proof that a something like this is going to come out very soon, but it surely means that the wearable computing team at Apple is figuring out how to bring this technology to the public. Even Google’s doing that, but in a way that’s in stark contrast with Apple’s secretive practices.