Forget haptic controllers in your hands — Apple wants to make haptic socks for its Apple AR and VR devices. According to a recently filed patent, the tech giant wants to make its augmented and virtual reality experiences as immersive as possible, with tech from your head to your toes.
The new patent discusses “haptic output devices” — which would provide feedback based on what is happening digitally, like the PS5 DualSense controllers do — with the peripherals being shaped like “socks and shoes with cavities configured to receive the feet of users.” That’s technical-speak for ‘places to put your feet inside’, like a sock.
Apple explains that feedback from its sock-like devices could give users the experience of walking on different kinds of surfaces, or make them feel like they are moving while staying in place. This sounds like a recipe for motion sickness, but matches up with more traditional examples of haptic feedback in controllers — like triggers having different resistances to mimic different weapons.
Take a walk on the weird side
While it’s possible this patent will amount to nothing — not every patented idea makes it to a final device — its filing at least suggests Apple is thinking about the future and capabilities of its AR devices.
For one, haptic footwear could be beloved by fitness buffs. These kinds of devices could give Apple the opportunity to create virtual experiences while you run, spicing up your usual jog through the park or on the treadmill, by transporting you to different terrains.
When it comes to gaming, not only would your surroundings look real, but they could feel more real too. These socks may also give people with smaller rooms the chance to explore larger spaces in VR or AR — as you’d no longer need to actually move around in real-life.
With Apple’s VR headset expected to launch in 2022, and AR Apple Glasses expected for 2023 and beyond, we’ll likely have a while to wait to see how these socks turn out. That is, if we even see them at all.
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