Apple VR headset may also include vibrating socks — but why?

apple mixed reality headset
(Image credit: Future)

It seems that the engineers at Cupertino are aiming to take the Apple Glasses and Apple VR mixed reality headset to new immersive heights, at least according to a new patent filing. 

Per a patent uncovered by our sister-publication TechRadar, Apple has filed for "haptic output devices" that would provide feedback to peripherals in the shapes of "socks and shoes with cavities configured to receive the feet of users."

Because VR is largely a visual experience, it can be hard to gauge an environment without any cutaneous sense. Apple explains this device would give the user the experience of walking on different kinds of surfaces.

"Feedback is driven by asymmetrical sawtooth drive signals that move the haptic output components back and forth by equal amounts to provide the user with a feeling of movement in a single direction while the user's foot remains at a fixed location," per the patent filing.

A similar device that's been able to express texture through vibration is the PS5 DualSense controller. It's most notable in the game Astro's Playroom, where it's possible to feel the fragility of glass, or the hollow tinniness of metal. 

Apparently, these socks will use piezoelectric and electroactive polymer haptics, along with various coils and magnets. 

This is clearly a different solution when compared to VR treadmills, which utilize a low friction surface with low friction shoes. 

Along with these VR socks, Apple also seems to be developing smart rings to track hand gestures. It would be a far more intuitive input solution for non-gamers.

At the moment, it's rumored the upcoming VR headset would set customers back $3,000. Apparently Apple is targeting it's upcoming VR headset towards developers first so that they can make some apps. Later down the line, Apple may release a more consumer-friendly AR mixed-reality headset. 

Imad Khan

Imad is currently Senior Google and Internet Culture reporter for CNET, but until recently was News Editor at Tom's Guide. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, Wired and Men's Health Magazine, among others. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.