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Rumor Apple’s First Headset to Be Niche Precursor to Eventual AR Glasses

Jethalal

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Dec 19, 2020
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Apple (AAPL) First VR Headset to Be Niche Precursor to Eventual AR Glasses - Bloomberg

Apple Inc.’s first crack at a headset is designed to be a pricey, niche precursor to a more ambitious augmented reality product that will take longer to develop, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The initial device has confronted several development hurdles and the company has conservative sales expectations
, illustrating how challenging it will be to bring this nascent consumer technology to the masses.

As a mostly virtual reality device, it will display an all-encompassing 3-D digital environment for gaming, watching video and communicating. AR functionality, the ability to overlay images and information over a view of the real world, will be more limited. Apple has planned to launch the product as soon as 2022, going up against Facebook Inc.’s Oculus, Sony Corp.’s PlayStation VR and headsets from HTC Corp., the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing private plans.

The plans suggest that Apple’s first headset will be far more expensive than those from rivals, which cost about $300 to $900. Some Apple insiders believe the company may sell only one headset per day per retail store. Apple has roughly 500 stores, so in that scenario, annual sales would be just over 180,000 units — excluding other sales channels.

Apple is aiming to include some of its most advanced and powerful chips in the headset along with displays that are much higher-resolution than those in existing VR products. Some of the chips tested in the device beat the performance of Apple’s M1 Mac processors. The company has also designed the headset with a fan, something the company usually tries to avoid on mobile products, the people said.

The headset, codenamed N301, is in a late prototype stage, but is not yet finalized so the company’s plans could change or be scrapped entirely before launch. The AR glasses, codenamed N421, are in an early stage known as “architecture,” meaning Apple is still working on underlying technologies. This product is several years away, according to the people, though Apple has previously targeted as early as 2023 to unveil it.


The powerful processors and the inclusion of a fan initially led to a device that was too large and heavy with some concern about neck strain in early testing. Apple removed the space VR gadgets usually reserve for users who need to wear eyeglasses, which brought the headset closer to the face and helped shrink the size. And to address consumers with poorer eyesight, it developed a system where custom prescription lenses can be inserted into the headset over the VR screens, the people said.

This may expose Apple to regulations governing the sale of products with prescriptions
. The company typically sells its devices in dozens of countries, many of which have different prescription rules. Apple is also discussing how it would implement prescriptions at the point of sale online and in retail stores.
To further reduce the device’s weight, Apple is planning to use a fabric exterior. That’s a departure from the metal designs Apple uses for most products, though it has used plastic for devices like AirPods, that need to be light, and fabrics for the HomePod speaker to improve acoustics.

Prototypes of the headset, some of which are about the size of an Oculus Quest, include external cameras to enable some AR features. The company is testing using the cameras for hand-tracking and is working on a feature where a user can type virtually in the air to input text. It’s unclear if that function will be ready for the first version of the device or if it will ever leave the exploratory stage.
The company is also still grappling with what content and functionality it intends to ship with the device. Virtual reality is still a somewhat nascent technology, with content beyond games still relatively limited. Last year, Apple acquired a company called NextVR, which recorded events such as concerts and sports games in virtual reality. It’s also discussed bundling an App Store with the device, which runs on an operating system dubbed “rOS” inside the company.
If Apple goes ahead with the VR headset, it would be a precursor to an eventual pair of AR glasses — a product that the company sees as far more mainstream but also more difficult to launch. Microsoft Corp.’s HoloLens 2 and Magic Leap’s headset, which emphasize AR over VR, retail for $3,500 and $2,295 respectively. HoloLens mostly focuses on work use cases still, while Magic Leap fell well short of the early hype and slashed jobs last year.
Have bolded important stuff. Will you buy such a device? Do you have any experience with such devices?

EDIT: Missed VR in the title as copied straight from the article which missed it too. Sorry :p
 
Last edited:

Buggy Loop

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Apple VR gaming...

Laughing Hard GIF by memecandy


I’m sure the tech is nice with a premium price.. but I cannot imagine they would support PCVR
 

Ememee

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Apr 6, 2020
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The bright side is AR seems to be the long term goal. I do think that’s going to be the closest game-changer compared to the smart phone.