With COVID-19 not completely under wraps, now may be as good a time as ever to invest in augmented and virtual reality experiences. This seems to be the direction Apple was heading in anyway. Talks of an Apple AR/VR headset have been swirling around since 2018 but last month, Apple watchers were abuzz when those speculations were confirmed with clearer details of an actual product in development, as reported by Bloomberg.
The device is purported to be “a precursor to a more ambitious augmented reality product”, a likely reference to Apple’s smartglasses, which have been in the pipeline according to the company’s AR/VR roadmap. The headset would provide an “all-encompassing 3-D digital environment for gaming, watching video and communicating”, and have the ability to overlay images and information over real world footage, giving it augmented reality functionality.
While the headset isn’t slated to be released until 2022, details about Apple releases have never been easy to keep under wraps. The Bloomberg report mentioned that Apple’s device would likely be pricier than its rivals, though on par with other Apple products, such as their US$5,999 Mac Pro desktop computer. Now a new report from The Information reveals even more about the actual hardware, including an internal late-stage render and a jaw-dropping price tag of around US$3,000.
According to The Information,the headset will be quite powerful in both form and function, through extremely advanced internal processing and computational power and incredible hardware features.
For one, the device is said to have ultra-high definition 8K displays for each eye, which is pretty crazy to fathom considering most consumer grade VR headsets today offer 4K resolution at most. Apple’s device will also feature advanced eye-tracking technology and more than a dozen cameras for tracking hand movements. And any Apple product is only as good as its sexy body, of which appears to be a “sleek, curved visor attached to the face by a mesh material and swappable headbands.” The headbands would provide different types of functionality: one band would feature spatial audio technology for a surround sound-like experience and another optional headband would primarily extend battery life for greater portability.
The headset’s cameras can apparently pass video of the real world through the visor and display it on screens. There will even be an outward-facing display on the visor so that the wearer can show others what they are seeing.
As for how the user will control the software, Apple is purportedly developing a “thimble-like device” to be worn on the user’s finger, while the headset itself would be able to respond to the user’s eye movements and hand gestures. At the moment it’s unclear whether the control device will be included with the headset.
The latest on this headset makes a lot of sense when you consider Apple’s latest M1-enabled products. The M1 is the first Apple-made chip and is a groundbreaking piece of technology that has given the newest Apple Macs more power than previous versions. The new headset, which would also contain an M1 chip, would give it the computational power to handle a wide range of content, closing the gap on the latency that exists in current VR headsets.
And since there is still some time between now and the official release of this product, AR/VR enthusiasts can expect that by the time Apple does drop its headset, there will be a bevy of games, videos, and other content to use it with.