Per a patent (opens in new tab) uncovered by our sister-publication TechRadar (opens in new tab), 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."
- Here are the best VR headsets available right now
- Have a headset already? Be sure to check out our best VR games list
- Plus: Apple Glass and VR could use these smart rings to track your hand gestures
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 (opens in new tab), 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.