A patent published today but filed in 2016 shows an Oculus concept for a convertible head-mounted display that can be powered by either a PC or phone.
The patent application 20170364144 from Oculus is listed as invented by Yury Anatolievic Petrov. It covers a head-mounted display said to receive “video input from a stationary computer in a first mode of operation and from a mobile computer in a second mode of operation, and to display images corresponding to the video input.”
Images in the patent application show a variety of potential arrangements including a phone snapped into place behind your head and connected to the head-mounted display with a wire.
The patent coming from Oculus shows an intriguing arrangement for display and processing of a virtual world. Magic Leap this week showed a head-mounted display powered by a processing unit you keep in your pocket. Current VR headsets are typically wired to a nearby PC or console or use a phone as the display. In 2017, the latter option is more accessible but limited in many ways. Oculus is developing a pair of standalones that keep everything in the headset needed to render, track movement and display a virtual world, but is there a benefit to this approach as well? Could a future phone plug into a headset and do more by turning off its display to power VR glasses? How would battery life work in a situation like that?
A patent is obviously not an indication of any future functionality, but it is a notable idea as the world’s biggest tech companies try to figure out how to build the greatest level of immersion into untethered VR and AR headsets.