Apple just patented mind control (sort of) — why the Vision Pro could be a mindfulness monster

Apple Vision Pro
(Image credit: Apple)

No, I’m not kidding. Spotted by Patently Apple, Apple just got a patent approved that is titled "Modifying Virtual Content to Invoke a Target user State.” That’s mind control, right?

But hold up a second. Before you start to get more than a little (understandably) worried, let’s go into the nitty gritty of this and see what the patent details, and how it could be a pretty valuable asset to the Apple Vision Pro.

Changing your mind (for the better)?

In the patent, Apple talks about a headset (which is fair to say the Apple Vision Pro), which works with a “server” (likely translation: iCloud) to control a user’s experience.

All standard at the moment, but it’s when the patent talks about using “sensor information” to determine the state of the user as to present a virtual agent with a “neural expression” to match your energy and encourage you to be calm. 

Apple Patent

(Image credit: Patently Apple)

It would do so by using a variety of on-board sensors (even using the heart rate, blood oxygen, and blood pressure monitors on your Apple Watch) and historical data to track your mood — such as the mood check-ins that are coming as part of iOS 17 and watchOS 9. At that point, it will work to target a particular emotional state by taking control of the experience and presenting appropriate content.

Key examples that Apple specifies include the likes of a cat to help you feel happy, a zen rock garden for relaxation, a virtual agent dancing to crack a smile, and even spiders to make you feel scared.

Outlook

So, while I do love to get a little dramatic with a headline, Apple’s uses for this are actually rather novel — a nice little expansion on the company’s mindfulness which does dip into the slightly terrifying by trying to control more than just your positive emotions.

Of course, mindfulness formed part of the WWDC keynote when talking about the Apple Vision Pro. But this goes one step further. Are we seeing a glimpse into how much further this could be expanded with Apple’s mixed-reality headset? I think so.

Now, we just have to hope Master Cook doesn’t use it to have us all chanting “ThE ViSiOn PrO Is A bArGaIn bUy MoRe iPhOnEs” in unison.

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Jason England
Content Editor

Jason brought a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a writer at Laptop Mag, and he is now the Managing Editor of Computing at Tom's Guide. He takes a particular interest in writing articles and creating videos about laptops, headphones and games. He has previously written for Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.