Apple has patented a head-mounted display that looks a little bit like the Oculus Rift. U.S. patent number 8,605,008 was granted yesterday and first spotted by Patently Apple. The application was filed way back in 2008, so it pre-dates a lot of the augmented and virtual reality headgear we've seen lately.
The patent abstract describes the head-mounted display as a "goggle system for providing a personal media viewing experience." It notes that the goggles could be linked to a range of devices, including computers, televisions, smartphones, and gaming systems. Interestingly, that's the only mention of gaming in the entire document. The goggles seem to be geared toward passive media consumption rather than something more interactive. I can't find any references to head tracking, which would be essential to delivering a good virtual reality experience.
Few details are provided on the display, which could be just about anything. "The goggle system may include any suitable display generation component," the patent says. The document goes on to explain that 3D scenes may be simulated by presenting different images to each eye, which is what the Rift does today.
In a unique twist, the patent describes adjusting the images for each eye to account for myopia and other vision impairments. The patent doesn't get into specifics, but it indicates that users could input their prescription or have their eyes automatically analyzed by the device. Bespectacled folks would be able to ditch their glasses when wearing the goggles.
Although Apple has been granted the patent, that doesn't mean iGoggles are imminent. I wouldn't be surprised to see some sort of head-mounted display eventually, though. We seem to be on the cusp of a virtual reality revolution, and it's unlikely Apple will sit on the sidelines.