HTC successfully patented a smartphone-reliant virtual reality headset designed to be bundled with a magnetic protective case, as revealed by a newly published listing found in the database of the World Intellectual Property Organization. The Taiwanese company originally applied for the patent in July of 2016 with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and was rejected last November for being overly vague in describing the contraption and failing to explain the unique nature of the device, i.e. the qualities that allow it to be categorized as a new invention. Following a number of modifications, HTC managed to receive an approval from the USPTO earlier this month.
The creation is described as an "accessory and lens system" that consists of two parts, a protective case meant to house a smartphone which has a magnetic rear plate and a foldable dual-lens setup that can be magnetically attached to the accessory. Once removed from the case, the system can be folded out in what appears to be a small VR module reliant on a handset screen, with users being expected to slide the smartphone into the device from the bottom and hold the contraption in one or two hands while experiencing VR content. When folded out, the headset appears to be even smaller and architecturally simpler than the Google Cardboard, whereas its foldable nature should make it extremely compact and easy to transport. The Taipei-based original equipment manufacturer didn't specify which materials it believes would be ideal for constructing the gadget, though the mechanism it envisioned appears to be most suitable for a plastic build.
HTC has been shifting its product focus to VR in recent years, faced with the dwindling performance of its smartphone business, part of which was recently sold to Google for over $1 billion. The company was also meant to release a standalone Daydream-powered headset this year but ended up canceling it, though it insists it's still committed to the VR ecosystem as a whole and has recently announced its second-generation premium headset in the form of the Vive Pro. The existence of the newly uncovered patent doesn't guarantee its commercialization, especially since it was originally created at a time when HTC was much more focused on smartphones than it currently is.