It’s fair to say that no matter how slick companies like Meta and Sony make their VR headsets look, you will always look like a bit of a prat with a big plastic box strapped to your head. 

It turns out it could be worse, though. Patently Apple has uncovered Apple patents suggesting that a future VR device might require you to wear some bundled gloves, to really complete the look.

Wearing said gloves with their skin-to-skin contact could allow for the kind of precise movements required to accurately move a cursor, scroll and do other dull desktop things we take for granted with a mouse. And yes, anybody who has used an Oculus Quest will know that the controllers aren’t the most accurate at fine pointing and clicking which does limit their ability to comfortably mimic the desktop.

“Apple’s invention covers devices and methods of detecting contact between a first body part and a second body part,” the site explains. “Sense circuitry can be configured to sense a signal at the sense electrode (e.g., configured to contact the second body part) in response to a drive signal applied to the drive electrode (e.g., configured to contact the first body part).”

The patent goes on to suggest that the headset could use a couple of Apple Watch-style wearables to detect skin-to-skin contact, with one used for sensing gestures, and the other actioning them. Another possibility is a ring worn with the gloves that can presumably be twisted to select things, launch programmes and answer calls.

Apple’s AR/VR plans

While pretty much everyone in the know agrees that Apple has plans in the augmented/virtual reality (AR and VR) space, it gets a little confusing when you try to dig down into specifics. Because it seems likely that what is commonly referred to as Apple Glasses and/or the Apple AR/VR headset may well be two very different products.

One of them is rumoured to be an AR/VR headset a bit like Oculus Quest, Microsoft HoloLens or HTC Vive. The other is supposed to be the kind of eyewear you can happily wear out and about, like the ill-fated Google Glass

The assumption is that the former will come before the latter, but it’s not really clear where patents for one end and the other begins, as the technology overlaps. Add to that the fact that not all patents are eventually used in a commercially available product, and it certainly gets confusing fast.

What we do know is that the first iteration of any plans in this area is likely to arrive early next year, possibly sporting a new operating system called RealityOS. We also know that Apple is very serious about this, and the analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says the company believes AR will replace the iPhone in the next ten years.

If Apple is serious about that, is it too much to hope that the company may subsidise its early adoption? This is Apple we’re talking about, so almost certainly yes. But we shall see…