Apple may not be nearly as enamored with virtual reality as Facebook, Google or Samsung, but that doesn’t mean it’s uninterested — it’s clearer than ever that Cupertino has been intrigued for years. The USPTO has granted Apple a patent (originally filed way back in 2008) for a headset design that uses your iPhone as a virtual reality display. The basic concept bears more than a small resemblance to Samsung’s Gear VR. You slot your phone into a cradle that sits in front of your eyes, and an external controller (in this case, a remote) helps you navigate when motion tracking isn’t enough.
This is just a patent, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever see a product come from the invention. It’s entirely possible that Apple looked at phone-based VR and put it back on the shelf due to business or technical limitations, at least at the time the patent was relatively fresh. However, this would open the door to an iPhone-centric VR display without legal hassles from other companies — don’t be surprised if you’re one day playing immersive iOS games using some funny-looking headgear.