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Apple Mixed-Reality Headset: VR, AR, Resolution, and More

Apple Mixed-Reality Headset is a top-secret project that has been in the works for months.

Mixed Reality is a combination of AR, VR, and other technologies

Rumours say that the headset will have a price tag of $500

It is unclear what other features the headset will have, but it is speculated that it will be more powerful than the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive

– If you are an Apple fan and are interested in mixed reality headsets, the Apple Mixed Reality Headset is one to watch out for

– The rumoured launch date is 2020

– By Katie Wudel

Apple Mixed Reality Headset: Project In The Works For Months, Price Tag $500

Sometimes Apple products come out of the blue and change our lives. Other times we get to know about them ahead of time and wait with bated breath for the big reveal. This is one of those times!

The long-anticipated news that Apple was working on a mixed reality headset has just been made public. Just like many other announcements from this company, it’s arriving off the back of another release — in this case, macOS Mojave — before its product cycle gets too far behind. Tim Cook recently gave an interview where he said they are doing some “cool” work in the AR field, and Mixed Reality is a combination of augmented (a la HoloLens) and virtual Reality.

Apple Mixed Reality Headset: What We Know So Far

– The headset will retail at $500, which makes it competitive with other headsets on the market

– It’s likely to be more powerful than either Oculus Rift or HTC Vive but may lack some features like hand tracking

– Rumoured release date is 2020

– Project described as “top secret” by s inside Apple

So what’s this all about?

For those unfamiliar with technology trends, let’s take a quick look at what exactly Apple is planning. Then we’ll talk about what this means for their products to come!

What Is Mixed Reality?

Like augmented reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality is another type of technology that involves placing digital elements into real-world settings. What makes it different; for instance, Google‘s Tango platform focuses on AR, whereas Microsoft HoloLens applies its high-end augmented features inside buildings or indoors where there are no GPS signals.

Apple’s mixed reality approach will likely be similar to HoloLens’ “mixed” designation because it will use both VR and AR technologies! This means you’ll be able to work with this headset just about anywhere, although the device may not have all the bells and whistles included in its competitors.

Apple Mixed-Reality Headset

Price and release date

Many outlets, reporters, and leakers have suggested different launch times for Apple’s mixed reality headset. However, a consensus has been reached around 2022. Although details about the exact release date are not available, it is clear that many s have reached the same conclusion.

Mark Gurman, a respected reporter, stated in June 2020 that Apple could unveil its headset in 2021 and then release it one year later. This was based on an alleged all-hands meeting with Apple’s headset developers team. The reporter then claimed that Apple would unveil the headset in “the next few months” at an event in 2021. He also stated that it would be released in 2022. Ming-Chi Kuo, a reliable Apple analyst, and The Information, a news outlet, predicted the same launch year of 2022. Although Apple did not officially announce the headset in 2021, it could still be teased in 2022 and possibly made available on shop shelves in 2023.

Still, there are hopes that an announcement will be made. Analysts at Morgan Stanley reported in November 2021 that the Apple headset mirrors the design of the Apple Watch, which Apple revealed in 2014. The headset, like the Watch, has seen an increase in patients over the past few months. These include patents for its hardware, input methods and user interface. This could mean that the headset follows the Apple Watch playbook and is almost ready for prime-time.

The Information claims it will cost $3,000. It would be comparable to Microsoft’s $3500 HoloLens 2, but it would likely only be available for industry use at that price. This seems a bit out of Apple’s normal range. However, display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) reported in January 2022 that the cost would be “several thousand dollars.” This would indicate that the first-generation model will be aimed at developers and professionals. This high price may have some merit.

Kuo, however, suggested a lower price of $1000. This brings the headset back to consumer territory, although at the top end. It is also more in line with what we would expect of Apple: More expensive but still mainstream and consumer-focused.

What’s in a name?

Apple VR Headset Concept by Antonio De Rosa
Apple VR Headset Concept Antonio De Rosa

People have speculated about the device’s name ever since rumours circulated about the Apple headset. While there were some early contenders, we are still far from an answer. Nevertheless, there are still some solid options worth looking into.

Apple Glass is the first and most obvious. Jon Prosser, a leaker who claimed to have seen the prototype of the device, suggested this name in a YouTube video. This name was rejected by Mark Gurman, who expressed doubts that Apple would name a product in honour of the failure of Google Glass. Fair point.

Gurman recently suggested a few options Apple might consider:

  • Apple Vision Gurman believes that this is the best candidate because it “sounds futuristic,” doesn’t refer to any particular technology or feature and has an optimistic vibe. It doesn’t limit the product to anything other than being a visual medium.
  • Apple Reality Gurman believes this is another strong contender. It refers to the ROS (“Reality OS”) system that runs the headset and is “understandable” and “broad.” There is also the possibility that Apple may name its future augmented-reality glasses “Apple Reality” as well as the specs “Apple Reality Glasses.”
  • Apple Sight or Apple iSight could be a throwback to the Apple iSight Webcam. Apple is moving away from the prefix “i” for new products these days, so it’s less likely.
  • Apple Lens: Gurman thinks this unlikely, as it is very similar to the Microsoft HoloLens brand and doesn’t accurately describe the headset since it will consist of display panels rather than see-through lenses.
  • Apple Goggles This name is somewhat amusing and maybe reminiscent of products such as the iPod Shuffle. Gurman believes it unlikely, despite the association with swimming goggles and protective goggles.
  • Apple AR/VR, Apple XR/App MR, Apple SR, or Apple SR: Gurman thinks acronym-based names are the least likely because they “pigeonhole the headset” into something that may soon be obsolete. Many acronyms can be difficult to understand for general users, who may not know what they mean. The final nail in the coffin is the XR name, which might confuse the iPhone XR.

Apple may not have settled on a name yet, which could explain why we haven’t heard much about it. The headset is expected to be revealed in the second half of this year or early in 2023. We will likely have a better idea about the name soon.

Wraparound design with tons of cameras

What do you think Apple’s mixed reality headset will look like? It will likely combine AR and VR so you can be immersed in the virtual world while it works. Any device that allows you to see around you, such as the Microsoft HoloLens 2 and the Magic Leap 1, would allow you to escape the virtual world. Rumours suggest that Apple’s device will be completely wireless, allowing you to move freely without being held back by cables. This would also break immersion.

There is also the augmented reality aspect. The headset will require cameras to capture the outside environment and send it back to you. According to The Information, the headset will have 12 cameras and lidar sensors. These sensors are already part of Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Pro, which aid in augmented reality processing.

Kuo claims there will be 15 cameras, eight for AR and one for environmental detection. Kuo also backed up this claim with another April report that reiterated Kuo’s claim of 15 cameras. Both versions could exist as prototypes. Apple will decide which version to use in the future. Regardless of whether this claim is true, it is clear that Apple takes the headset’s camera situation seriously.

Light as a feather

Apple's rumored virtual reality headset.

How about the device’s actual body? This is an interesting question because it could be a significant differentiator and advantage for Apple. Kuo reported in March 2021 that the headset could be as light as 150g (0.33 lbs), which is half the weight of rivals. The $1,000 Valve Index VR headset will weigh five times more than Apple’s if Kuo is right. The frame is a lightweight fabric and not heavy plastic to help achieve this low-bulk goal.

The Information report also included an interesting detail about the headset’s design: It could use straps that look very similar to those used on the Apple Watch Sport Band. This isn’t the first time Apple devices have taken design cues to form another. The AirPods Max headphones borrowed the HomePod Mini’s fabric mesh and the Apple Watch’s Digital Crown.

An 8K feast for your eyes

Apple VR headset patent drawing.

The exterior of Apple’s headset isn’t the only thing that looks promising. There could be some eye-opening features inside, including the display resolution. The display resolution is 8K per eye. This would give an unimaginable level of detail. The HTC Vive Cosmos Elite has a 1440×1700 resolution per eye.

An industry analyst, display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC) claims that front-facing lenses may have a resolution of 4,000 x 4,000. Other intriguing details include the fact that the front panels will feature MicroLED displays, and Apple will add a third panel to aid peripheral vision. This AMOLED screen will have a lower resolution than MicroLED screens. It could create an immersive, all-encompassing experience. Your peripheral vision may be slightly blurred so you can focus on what’s in front of you.

Kuo claims that Apple might be aiming for high-quality visuals by using iris recognition technology in its headset based on what his s have told him. This could include the camera used for “innovative Biometrics”, which Kuo mentioned earlier. Kuo claims that they can use iris recognition to authenticate your Apple Pay account or unlock your accounts. This will allow you to complete these tasks without removing the headset and entering a password.

Powered by an Apple Silicon chip

Apple M1 Pro logo.

They could also allow eye- or hand-tracking capabilities, similar to the cameras. Apple has patented control methods for both the Mac and mixed-reality headsets in the past. The headset could find this tech in Apple’s MR headset.

We haven’t seen much information about the display’s refresh rate or field of vision. It will be necessary to have a high refresh rate to minimize motion sickness and lag. Competitors’ headsets aim for 90Hz and more elevated. We’ll have to wait to see what Apple chooses.

Mark Gurman claims that the custom-designed Apple Silicon Chip would power all of this tech. It is one of Apple’s most powerful and advanced processors, surpassing the M1 chip in the MacBook Pro. The ARM-based chip architecture of Apple is extremely efficient. It doesn’t even require a fan for the M1 MacBook Air, ideal for a small device such as a mixed reality headset where cooling is crucial (for you and the chip). Gurman claims that the headset might not even need a fan.

Ming-Chi Kuo, an Apple analyst, suggests that the headset may be powered not by one but two chips. Kuo believes that one would be made using a 4-nanometer process while another would use 5-nanometer processing. The former would provide the main computing power, and the latter would handle the device’s sensors. Kuo believes that the combined power output would need one of Apple’s 96W adapters. This adapter is the same one that powers up the MacBook Pro. This could indicate the headset’s power.

In a January newsletter, Mark Gurman supported the idea that two chips would power the headset. Gurman claimed that one of the two chips would be “on the same level as the M1 Pro in MacBook Pro.” Kuo and Gurman are both onboard, so the idea of an Apple headset with two powerful chips seems to be growing in popularity.

Kuo also claims that the headset will feature Wi-Fi 6E rather than the WiFi 6 in the current iPhone13 lineup. This new band of 6GHz will allow you to enjoy lower latency and higher data rates. This claim is very sensible considering the nature of mixed reality content.

Apple mixed-reality headset: Our wish list

Apple VR Headset Concept by Antonio De Rosa
Antonio De Rosa

Apple has already made it clear that the headset is equipped with many great features. However, we still wish for a few more. Great battery life is at the top of our list. After all, what good is a great device if it stops working after just a few minutes? This is a good thing, because Apple’s custom chip has resulted in incredible battery life for its MacBooks. This might be offset by the headset’s super-high resolution, but we are keeping our fingers crossed.

Apple has been rumoured to be developing a special operating platform called rOS (realityOS?). The operating system will power the headset. This system will require apps and games to run, but we hope that some cross-compatibility will occur due to the Apple Silicon architecture found in the headset and the other Apple devices.

It would be wonderful if the headset could recognize whether you are playing a video game on an Apple TV or Mac and mirror it onto the headset with mixed-reality goodness (assuming the game is VR compatible). Apple should limit the headset’s functionality to rOS-compatible apps and games. Developers might feel discouraged if they create apps for the new operating system.

The headset’s control system is the last thing we need to know. We don’t know if the headset will have a handheld controller or rely solely on gestures. Apple must include haptic feedback if it is the latter. Apple already has haptic feedback in all of its MacBooks and Apple Watches. This shows that Apple understands how to make tech work. It would be great to have gentle taps built into games and apps that don’t break immersion.

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