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Displays Patents Apple

Apple Patent Could Have "Broad Ramifications" For VR Headsets 128

An anonymous reader writes Filed in 2008, published in 2013, and legally granted to Apple this week, the company's patent for a 'Head-mounted display apparatus for retaining a portable electronic device with display' could have "broad ramifications" for mobile VR headsets like Samsung's Gear VR and Google Cardboard, says patent attorney Eric Greenbaum. "This Apple HMD patent is significant. I would say it introduces potential litigation risks for companies that have or are planning to release a mobile device HMD," he said. "There is no duty for Apple to make or sell an HMD. They can sit on this patent and use it strategically either by enforcing it against potential infringers, licensing it, or using it as leverage in forming strategic partnerships."
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Apple Patent Could Have "Broad Ramifications" For VR Headsets

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  • Me thinks Chinese copies will resolve this issue completely.
  • This really shows how much these corporations really want their customers to be happy. and get all the best they possible could offer.
    As long as Apple in this case makes money or bangs it's competitor's in behind wearing the classes.
    It has no problems if it's customers (we, the people on earth, etc) never ever get to wear these devices. .....

    • I'm not really concerned if I ever get to wear one of these types of devices, but if I can't get my dog a set of VR goggles because of App£'$ greed I'm going to be pretty pissed off. I've always imagined a dystopian world where my corgi wages battle in a dystopian virtual reality world a la the lawnmower man. If this doesn't happen I'm never buying another iPhone again until they come out with one with bigger than an 8 megapixel camera.
    • This really shows how much these corporations really want their customers to be happy. and get all the best they possible could offer.

      The only thing it shows is that in 2008 they filed for a patent. Every company doing any R&D does the same thing all the time. Anything it "shows" beyond that comes from you.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    for HMD's, VR goggles, displays, etc, HOW THE FUCK did crApple manage to get a patent on this?!?

  • Bogus patent... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 19, 2015 @03:18PM (#49089689)

    Like anything Apple patents, it's someone else's work and vision.

    Simply put, VR headsets (displays mounted in such a way as to be placed in front of a person's eyes) have been visualized and built for decades.

    Lawnmower Man anyone?

    • by Bogtha ( 906264 )

      Simply put, VR headsets (displays mounted in such a way as to be placed in front of a person's eyes) have been visualized and built for decades.

      Sure, but that's not what's being patented here. What's being patented here is a frame that you can slot an existing mobile device into to be used as a headset, where the headset detects the insertion and notifies the phone to switch to VR mode. That's not something that has been built for decades.

      Lawnmower Man anyone?

      Lawnmower Man didn't include a devi

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Google doesn't sell Google Cardbaord. Google involvement is just apps. Instead you buy a kit made of cardboard from some vendor for a few dollars. The kit probably doesn't violate the patent anyway because it doesn't physically connect to the phone.

    • IANAPA but from my take, yes thr cardboard units are infringing. Granted I only read the claims in apples patent once the first time around when it was posted a few days ago.
  • by ZeroWaiteState ( 3804969 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @03:24PM (#49089765)
    "It holds a smart phone in front of your eyes" isn't enough to enforce a patent. Frankly, I'm sick of seeing patent applications where the thing being claimed isn't a design at all, but a vague description of a whole class of products that share some basic characteristics.
    • Apple arguably has the best layer dream team in the world. With these things it comes down to money, not facts or laws. Also with that 2008 filing date 7 years ago they should be able to patent troll with the best.
    • Yeah, I have to give the lawyer who dreamed this one up some kudos for creativity and the audacity to actually file it. (Blame for actually granting it goes to the USPTO as usual.) First we had "on a" troll patents, where you patented something that already existed but was now being done on a different platform. e.g. A shopping cart on a website. Email on a cellular network.

      Now with this patent they've created a new "with a" class of troll patent. VR headsets and smartphones already existed long befo
    • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
      I wish patents such as this required a working prototype and a marketing plan to actually sell the device. Don't actually bring it to market within 2 years, patent invalidated and you are not able to re-file.
    • If Apple felt like it, they could probably patent "It holds a smart phone against your ear for hands free operation" and get away with it. (If someone doesn't get what I'm saying just think rubberband)...

    • by iCEBaLM ( 34905 )

      The mere fact that a piece of *folded cardboard* can perform the same function as this patent makes your assertion all the more true.

    • '"It holds a smart phone in front of your eyes" isn't enough to enforce a patent.'

      Luckily for Apple, that matches exactly none of the claims.

  • head?

    This is really a poor-man's solution. Needing a latest greatest cell-phone to show-off (of course, not simply being able to pay for it, but monthly through the carrier), and wanting some VR. Not minding the big disadvantage of having the complete weight of the cell-phone strapped to their head, and display quality diminished by the touch input layer.

    Displays aren't exactly the cheapest part of a cell-phone, however, a purpose-built device will definitely be more user-friendly - and cheaper than the cel

    • Your mistake is that your forgetting that most people already OWN the cellphone for other uses.
      So it's only the surrounding container that needs to be bought.

      That can be made a LOT cheaper than one with the display. Of course it's likely to offer slightly less value/features but it is probably good enough for a lot of people who can't afford yet another device but would be happy to use one they already paid for in another way that covers most of the functionality they need.

      In the same way - no photographer

  • That they are granted a patient to use a "mobile" device with a typically non-mobile VR headset.

    • And it is truly amazing. I've had my gear vr for about 3 weeks now. Best thing I think I've ever bought.

  • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @03:29PM (#49089817)
    My last rough count of ruined kickstarter projects is 4. Few things are sadder than a multibillion dollar international company serving cease and desist letters to fledgling startups who operated in good faith with due diligence. Ahh apple, will you use your 6+ to capture the exact moment you broke that 22yr old business owners heart?
  • To infringe, an infringer would have to produce a product that had every element of the claim listed below. Leave one thing off and you are clear of infringement. 1. A head-mounted device that is worn on a user's head and configured to integrate with a removable portable electronic device, comprising: a frame comprising a cavity that is configured to physically receive and carry the removable portable electronic device, wherein the frame places a display screen of the portable electronic device in front
  • by portwojc ( 201398 ) on Thursday February 19, 2015 @03:45PM (#49089999) Homepage

    If I understand patents correctly the supporting claims don't matter it's the parent claims. Break one part of the parent and the rest falls apart.

    Part of claim 1 the only parent claim...

    "a detection mechanism configured to alter the portable electronic device based on whether the removable portable electronic device is mounted on the frame"

    That's easy... Mount the display in the headset. Push a on screen button launching VR mode. Device changes to VR mode. Take off the headset, touch the screen - since you won't be touching it while watching it, and device comes out of VR mode. It's not like you need to be that lazy to have it automatically start when put in.

    If I'm right Samsung / Google I just saved you both some trouble. If I'm wrong then please tell me where so I'll learn something.

    • IANAL, but I think you're right. From what I understand, a product would need to violate every clause of Claim 1 in order to violate this patent. If a single clause isn't violated, then I don't think there's a violation. (e.g. A cup without a handle doesn't violate the patent for cups with handles).

      But... Doesn't Google Cardboard already do this? AFAIK, there's no detection mechanism that determines if it's being used in the frame.
    • If I'm wrong then please tell me where so I'll learn something.

      You're not wrong, but you are getting in the way of everyone's two minutes hate over patents.

    • If I understand patents correctly the supporting claims don't matter it's the parent claims. Break one part of the parent and the rest falls apart.

      Is that supposed to make it better? We live in an automated world. We try to automate everything, and now we can automate everything .... except an automatic action that does some action when a device is mounted in a frame.

      Thanks Apple.

      By the way I have a Google Cardboard DIY VR thing at home which already automatically detects the phone has been slotted into the headset. The cardboard has an NFC coil in the back.

  • I have seen gag pictures on the web of portable TVs strapped to people's heads for years now. same thing, just sleeker. I don't think you can patent "sleeker."

  • Every claim is based on the first one, which specifically states its a holder for a portable device, like an iPod Touch or iPhone.

    As long as the VR goggles have their own built in screen, there is no way it is infringing.

  • It was filed in 2008, but there were already others publicly using smartphones the 'google cardboard' way, so there is prior art, and therefore I already find it very weird Apple was awarded the patent.. Seems like they (again) give the patent officer one hell of a bribe....
  • This explains why Google came out with cardboard. To make it clear, just how stupid this patent is.

  • How in the world did Apple get to this first? No one before 2008 thought to do this? Seriously?

    Sure, strapping a Palm 3 to my head would probably just cause a headache, but no one at Palm or Microsoft or Sony or Samsung or Motorola thought enough of this to file a throwaway patent?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Samsung has a patent from 2005 that used a flip phone for a VR headset. It is pretty funny looking Not sure if it descibed using lenses or if the phone could detect being in the holder.

  • You mean Nintendo didn't patent this with Virtual Boy?
  • Make a collar that rests on your shoulders instead of attaching to the head. Would work just as well and your shoulders are better equipped to handle bearing extra weight for an extended period of time than your neck is. Add a mechanism so that it rotates with your head and you are good.
  • It seems to me that several devices from the Garage VR days would predate this patent.
  • if I point my viewmaster at an electric light is that a problem? guess I stick to my kerosene lamp then.

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. -- Thomas Edison