It’s no secret that Apple is working on projects within both the augmented reality and virtual reality spaces. The tech giant is no stranger to developing a wide variety of popular consumer products, and it seems these are two upcoming areas for the manufacturer.
From the iPhone to AirPods, Apple’s premium hardware has been a mainstay for decades. That doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon, especially as it looks to broaden its horizons with tech it has yet to break ground with.
So what are these big new products Apple is heavily rumored to be working on? What are the key differences between its VR and AR projects, what does Apple hope to achieve with them, and when can we expect the final products to hit the market? Nothing is certain yet, but here’s what we’ve heard from leaks so far.
What is Apple Glass?
Apple has already made strides in augmented reality tech. Its official AR webpage boasts that the company has “the world’s largest AR platform, with hundreds of millions of AR-enabled devices, as well as thousands of AR apps on the App Store.”
Many of these apps make use of LiDAR technology, which is available on the iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max and some iPad Pro models. Short for Light Detection and Ranging, LiDAR employs remote sensing to scan and examine distances and depth. When LiDAR tech is applied to augmented reality, the device is able to “understand” its surroundings, and get a feel for distance and space.
Apple Glasses are likely to be the next big step in the tech giant’s AR innovations. It’s an ambitious concept, but the glasses could end up being the first in what may be a long line of wearable AR devices.
According to a patent, the glasses might not have their own independent display. Instead, the device could be powered by a companion iPhone. This would be an understandable first move: glasses that act as a headpiece for your iPhone to test the waters before Apple moves onto more confident projects like an independent headset.
Some analysts have jumped into the conversation in regards to when they think Apple Glasses will be available for purchase. Ming-chi Kuo, a trusted Apple analyst, stated the device will be ready in 2022 at the earliest. Tech analyst Jon Prosser disagreed, tweeting that the Apple Glasses will be available between March and June of 2021 instead.
What is Apple VR?
Apple has been rumored to have been working on VR technology for years now. All the way back in 2014, it was reported that Apple was working on and hiring for the development of a VR headset.
The virtual reality headset Apple is working on is rumored to feature an 8K display for both eyes, far higher than anything we’ve seen so far in other VR headsets. As one can expect from Apple, the headset is rumored to be expensive, and it may cost potential customers somewhere in the realm of $3,000 (about £2,200, AU$3,900).
It’s also said to feature eye-tracking technology. This will render only the part of the world the user is currently looking at. This should prove useful for saving on CPU resources, as the device will only render what is absolutely necessary, which will no doubt be a boon for those 8K displays.
An artistic mockup of the design by The Information was tweeted out, based on internal renders from Apple, which gives us an idea of the physical design for the headset.
New: I’ve seen internal Apple renders of its mixed reality headset. It’s a sleek, curved visor with swappable headbands and over a dozen cameras. Artist mockup of the renders: https://t.co/KMuncsbr7b pic.twitter.com/0FF5G87bwiFebruary 4, 2021
No release date is set in stone for Apple’s VR headset, though reporting by MacWorld reveals it could go on sale as early as 2022. This could potentially flesh out Apple’s product releases for either 2022 or 2023, alongside the Apple Glass AR device.