The Apple AR headset might need two Apple Watches to control it

Apple watch vs wacth 6 with fitness stuff on
Granted, it might not be two Apple Watches on the same wrist, but still – two at once may be the way to go. (Image credit: TechRadar)

Apple may not have officially announced its plans for the much-rumored Apple AR/VR headset hardware yet, but its recent patents have seemingly been giving away some its plans – with the latest teasing a novel way of using the Apple Watch to control a headset.

How users control AR experiences is an area that a lot of companies have tried their hand at, with some having more success than others. Google’s original Google Glass headsets introduced awkward head-twitches and the Nreal Air glasses forced you to use your smartphone – a difficult task when you can’t really see it with the glasses on. The only company to crack it so far is Meta with its Oculus Quest 2 AR features relying on either the regular controllers or hand-tracking, making for a much smother experience. 

Apple has decided to go a different route though. Based on a recent patent filing (discovered by Patently Apple) Apple will seemingly reinvent the wheel with a setup that relies on a headset wearer strapping on two Apple Watch-like devices – one on either wrist. While not explicitly called Apple Watches, the diagrams look very similar to the California tech giant’s smartwatch, complete with touchscreen and Digital Crowns.

Apple AR headset patent showing how an Apple Watch would control it

One Apple Watch on each wrist – looks a bit silly doesn't it. (Image credit: Apple / Patently Apple)

Once one watch is on each hand, the wearables would be able to use their electrodes to track gestures and various contact points on people’s palms so that they can control what they see on an Apple AR/VR headset.

Though, if you’ve been struggling to pick between two of the best Apple Watch options don’t take this as your green light to just buy both.

Firstly, as with all patents – especially for unreleased hardware – there’s no guarantee we’ll see Apple take this route with its tech. It could just be patenting the design before someone else can to keep its options open (or keep people of the scent of its real plans).

Secondly, there’s no guarantee that the Apple Watch 7 or any other of Apple’s currently available smartwatches would be compatible with what this patent lays out. Until Apple explains its plans publicly it’s possible we could find out that this feature is exclusive to the Apple Watch 8 and later.

Apple AR headset patent showing how an Apple Watch would control it

By touching one hand with another you could control an AR headset, based on what the patent says. (Image credit: Apple / Patently Apple)

Lastly, this wearable controller may not even need to be an Apple Watch at all. While we expect Apple would ensure its smartwatch can be used as a controller, we’d hope it would come up with a cheaper alternative wearable that works just as well. Based on the patent the wrist-based device just needs some of the Apple Watch’s functions, not all of them – potentially paving the way for a stripped-down (and cheaper) add-on.

We’ll have to wait and see what Apple announces, but with the Apple AR/VR headset not expected until next year, and the Apple Glasses even further away we might be waiting a while.

Looking for something you can do with your Apple Watch today? Here are the best Apple Watch apps of 2022.

Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.