Thanks to a pair of augmented reality/virtual reality projects believed to be in the works, Apple’s gearing up for AR/VR market entry. One of the two projects, an AR/VR headset, is slated for release sometime in late 2022 or early 2023.
The headset is rumored to support Wi-Fi 6E, ambitious software, and Apple-quality-like design and aesthetics, along with a slew of other potential features. The second project in question is a fashionable pair of augmented reality glasses, believed to release sometime after the AR/VR headset debuts.
Apple’s upcoming AR/VR headset: Specifications
Apple’s AR/VR projects aim to meet the needs of a “high-end, immersive experience,” according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Kuo made the AR/VR announcement note to investors earlier this month, along with a slew of added details.
The headset will adopt a mix of virtual reality and augmented reality functionality. VR and AR are similar technologies, but there’s a significant difference between them, and their potential applications vary. VR refers to a fully immersive experience in a virtual world, while AR refers to a modified view of the real world. Apple’s looking to combine the worlds of AR and VR with their first-ever head mounted display device (HMD).
Apple’s AR/VR headset will feature a pair of processors, one higher-end chip having “similar computing power as the M1 for Mac,” according to Kuo, while the second chip is responsible for “sensor-related computing.”
Apple’s first-ever HMD will adopt faster Wi-Fi 6E support, which is significantly better than Wi-Fi 5 for transmission speed and power consumption. It’s also looking like the headset will have at least 8GB of RAM and a 256GB hard drive—almost like an actual computer is being strapped to someone’s head.
Apple’s upcoming AR/VR headset: Software
It’ll be a mixed virtual reality bag in terms of potential software. Apple is believed to be focusing on streaming video, video conferencing, and gaming. Because of this vision, Kou thinks that Apple has “more of a design challenge” ahead of them because Apple wants to aim “beyond games and AR/VR software.”
Current AR/VR competitors are mainly focused on one core AR/VR segment per device, like gaming-focused VR. So, developing software will be more of a hurdle for Apple, considering the mixed-reality vision Apple is going for. The challenge for Apple, Kou reckons, is to build “software, ecosystem, and services” that’s “higher than current AR/VR competitors.” He goes on to add, Apple has the “best industrial design solutions” because of the headset’s “complexity and the need for a comfortable fit.”
All in all, Kou expects head mounted displays to adopt the “next wave of user interface revolution.” Considering this is Apple we’re talking about, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that revolutionizing a new market is something Apple is gunning for.
Apple’s upcoming AR/VR headset: Design, display
Rumors suggest Apple’s AR/VR headset will have a sleek look that uses fabrics and lightweight materials, offering a comfortable fit. The headset will likely draw structural similarities to the Oculus Quest 2 in some ways. As far as weight goes, the headset will target between 300-400 grams, according to Kuo.
Given the aim of a mixed-reality device, Apple’s HMD is rumored to use a pair of high-resolution 8K screens. Hand and eye-tracking will be handled by over a dozen cameras, with the headset connecting to an Apple device to function, either via an iPhone, iPad, or another part of the Apple ecosystem.
As mentioned, Apple’s upcoming AR/VR headset is separate from the company’s upcoming augmented reality smart glasses. The sleeker, fashionable smart glasses are expected to launch sometime in 2023.
Apple’s upcoming AR/VR headset: Expected price, release date
The consensus on a release date is late 2022 or early 2023. Kou claimed that mass production of the headset could be delayed until the end of 2022; however, a fourth-quarter release is still possible.
As far as pricing goes, don’t be surprised if Apple’s price point exceeds the several thousand dollar mark, which will likely attract only diehards and price out most hopeful consumers.
Still, the AR/VR future is looking bright considering Apple is jumping into the mix. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Apple manages to fund some genuinely excellent experiences to see what kind of traction they can accomplish with AR and VR technologies.