Apple May Be Split on Its Upcoming AR/VR Headset

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Apple is expected to launch two AR/VR headsets in 2023, which could be unveiled at WWDC 2023. This is believed to commence with a mixed reality headset, followed by an affordable version coming in 2024 or 2025. However, Apple has, in the past, been seen struggling with certain product categories and devices; earlier plans to launch a mixed reality headset in 2022 were postponed, as per reports. Although Apple plans to launch the headset this year, a new report suggests that there might be some internal disagreements at Apple with regards to the upcoming wearable device.

The Cupertino, California-based iPhone maker’s upcoming AR-VR headset is expected to be a standalone device, with the company utilising proprietary Apple silicon chipsets that are arguably on par with Apple’s MacBook laptops, according to a report by MacRumors. A New York Times article further suggests that Apple will position the headset as a ‘copresence’ device that will allow for augmented reality videoconferencing and meetings.

The wearable device could feature capabilities related to creative tools, enabling functions such as editing images in 3D space, which could come in as a secondary objective for the device, the publication argues. Thirdly, the device is also expected to serve as a personal TV, with the tech giant already partnering with Hollywood content creators such as Jon Favreau to create original content dedicated to be viewed and experienced on the mixed reality headset.

AR and VR headsets, however, have not evolved as an independent product category, at least not for most consumers. Meta has also previously expressed the need to adopt prudence and patience when it comes to introducing an AR-VR headset or device. Therefore, it isn’t much of a surprise that Apple is also struggling with reaching a full consensus on what the right path would be.

Nevertheless, addressing concerns would ultimately decide what makes or breaks this deal with the mixed reality headset from Apple. To begin, the first reported concern, according to sources who did not want to be named due to Apple’s internal policy from speaking about future products, is that the devices are expected to have a hefty price tag, which is believed to be somewhere around $3,000 (roughly Rs. 2,50,000) while still arriving at a time when the market is premature and yet to be proven. In fact, most major launches from the tech giants in the category have failed to establish a market; Google Glass, Magic Leap, Microsoft’s HoloLens, and Meta’s Quest Pro have all faced hiccups and disappointments.

Much of this has even prompted major tech giants like Microsoft to join hands in developing a device, or more importantly, develop the market itself first by raising the standards of the devices, while keeping it accessible in terms of pricing. Secondly, morale at the design team of Apple is reportedly low, especially with Jony Ive ending his long-standing association with Apple as Design Chief.

The mixed reality headset is expected to house two chips that will allow it to perform complex tasks and process virtual reality. The standalone device is expected to work independently of an iPhone or Mac computer. However, pairing the wearable with an iPhone or Mac would allow the extended devices to double as keyboards or a medium for data transfer.

In terms of design, the headset is expected to look similar to other mixed reality headsets that are in the market, such as the Oculus Quest. However, Apple’s wearable may be sleeker and lighter, believed to be achieved by cutting down on battery size and empty space utilised within the device. The company could feature an external battery pack that could be worn on the user’s waist.

The displays on the wearable device is expected to be made up of two immersive high-resolution 4K micro-OLED displays that offer up to 3,000ppi of sharpness. The device is expected to house a dozen cameras that will be utilised to track eye movement, hand movements, and gestures. Additionally, the device is expected to support voice control, skin detection, spatial detection, and expression detection. Audio on the device is expected to be delivered by built-in speakers, but a better experience will require the user to pair the wearable to be paired with AirPods earphones or headphones that support Spatial Audio.

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