Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have been on the verge of becoming mainstream for what feels like a decade. With Apple adopting the technology in its lineup, mixed reality might actually become a natural part of our daily lives.
According to Tom’s Guide, Apple VR and mixed reality headset might come as soon as next year. The headset is set for release ahead of Apple Glasses as a possible pathway for developers to get onto the augmented and virtual reality scene before it goes mainstream with the glasses.
So far, VR headsets haven’t quite managed to take off. The expectation for the Apple’s version of the virtual reality headset is that the company would be able to finally make it comfortable and fun as opposed to the clunky and limited in their capabilities VR headset iterations the market has seen so far.
Tom’s Guide points to Apple’s strong suits of LiDAR and 5G technologies that can help make a VR headset much more potent. LiDAR scanners can help make mixed reality items more realistic and fit seamlessly into the environment, while 5G could allow for fast booting of large files and prevent lagging.
As noted above, the rumored headset is expected to be a mixed reality device that will combine the AR and VR technologies. According to industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, as reported by MacRumors, the device might don a micro-OLED display supplied by Sony.
The same report notes that the device is expected to have its own storage and computing capability, but, while portable, it will not be as mobile as an iPhone.
The device is also expected to have at least a dozen cameras to track hand movements, 8K display, and advanced eye tracking, shares The Information. Another report — this time from Ming-Chi Kuo — says the headset will have 15 cameras to enable advanced AR and biometrics, as per 9to5mac.
Elaborating on the eye tracking technology, MacRumors quotes Ming-Chi Kuo, who notes that the system is developed to be controlled by eye movements and allows for a smoother user experience compared to operation with a handheld controller.
More information on the hand gestures is in Bloomberg’s piece on the Apple VR headset. The report says the device’s cameras might be able to track hand movements so well that a user could be able to “type” in the air to provide virtual input for the headset.
Another Ming-Chi Kuo report retold by 9to5mac, notes that the device is set to weigh less than 150 grams and have very short focal length to help out with the weight cut. This number is much lighter than the current VR options on the market, so the Apple device is anticipated to become a serious upgrade in terms of comfort and wearability. As one of the ways to make the headset lighter, its lenses are rumored to be swapped out for plastic ones instead of glass.
Now, let’s see what we know about the headset’s design.
Bloomberg found out that plans are to make the device’s exterior fabric to help make it lightweight. It might also have a fan and a chip even more powerful than M1. The more powerful processor is needed since the company reportedly wants to make the device a standalone product that can work on a battery and not be dependent on external devices for content input.
Like we said above, Apple’s hotly anticipated VR headset is set to be a mixed reality item with more emphasis on VR than AR but it’s also reportedly seen by the company as a niche pathway to the introduction of a more mass AR device — Apple glasses.
So what the VR set is good for?
Bloomberg shares that the headset will provide a 3D environment for gaming, watching videos, and communicating.
Possible release date
MacRumors shares the projected timeline for the Apple VR and AR gear releases, as per Ming-Chi Kuo: 2022 for mixed VR/AR headset, 2025 for AR glasses, and 2030-2040 for AR contact lenses. AR contact lenses? Now, that sounds straight out of a sci-fi movie!
The gear is rumored to be on the pricier side with headsets costing around $1,000, this according to MacRumors report citing Ming-Chi Kuo. A contrasting report from The Information, cited by The Verge and MacRumors, insists Apple has been discussing a much higher price tag of $3,000.