Apple Glass might have a modular trick up its sleeve. The rumored pair of mixed reality glasses could feature swappable arms that each supply a distinct purpose or carry out a different function.
At least that's what Apple's newest patent suggests. Awarded this week by the USPTO (via AppleInsider,) the patent details a "modular system for head-mounted device" that uses "one or more arm modules to provide features that integrate with other operations."
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The Apple Glass leaks we've seen thus far suggest the final product will look like an "unintimidating" pair of Wayfarer-like frames with clear lenses. This is the first mention of a modular setup, and we must say it sounds pretty awesome.
Modular products haven't quite taken off. Moto Mods for smartphones such as the Moto Z4 and Moto Z3 Play is the closest equivalent out there in the mobile world. Like those somewhat successful swappable phone cases, every pair of Apple Glass arms would serve a distinct purpose or offer an enhanced feature.
For example, one set of arms could operate with fewer capabilities, but offer a better battery life for users on the go. When a wearer gets back home, they could swap in a pair that enables a high resolution display for watching a movie or playing games.
Based on patent images, Apple is considering taking a move from its Apple Watch playbook and using small magnets and divots on main frame to secure the swappable arms. Although even the best Apple Watch bands don't add extra functionality, the interchangeable system is an appreciated one.
This approach could help Apple solve the publicly-known complications it's faced with cramming a ton of next-generation technology in a head-mounted device people will actually want to wear. Bloomberg reported last week that internal issues at the company have pushed back the release of either Apple Glass or an Apple VR headset.
Bloomberg has also tipped another swappable Apple device that could be coming soon: AirPods Studio. The rumored pair of premium over-ear headphones is believed to offer magnetic, interchangeable cups made from different fabrics.
We believed Apple had planned to launch those headphones at WWDC 2020, but the hardware-less event hinted a product-filled September keynote. We could see AirPods Studio debut alongside the iPhone 12 lineup and Apple Watch 6.
As for Apple Glass, some leaks say it could debut as earlier as next year, while others suggest it isn't coming until closer to 2023. We could see an Apple VR headset come to challenge the Oculus Quest 2 before then. though.
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Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.