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The article below is first appeared in this week’s newsletter, sent to subscribers on Wednesday, December 1.
This Changes Everything: An In-Depth Look at Apple’s innovations
Augmented Reality is a big thing, and Apple has been interested in it for years. It looks like 2022 could be when we see its own AR headset launch. Here’s what we know, or think we know, so far.
Augmented Reality (AR) is that cool system where the view of a smartphone camera is overlaid onscreen with information from the digital worlds. Whether you’ve only come across it with Pokemon Go, or have been using it for years with game-changing apps like 2009’s Nearest Tube, it’s only going to become more mainstream.
And the next stage is its arrival in devices which are not a smartphone. Such as a headset or a pair of glasses (though the first of these, Google Glass, did not take off. Here are the latest rumors for an Apple AR headset.
Apple is very keen on AR
When I spoke to Tim Cook four years ago, he was very keen on AR—though of course he was talking about the technology, not a headset. He told me: “I’m excited about Augmented Reality because unlike Virtual Reality which closes the world out, AR allows individuals to be present in the world but hopefully allows an improvement on what’s happening presently. Most people don’t want to lock themselves out from the world for a long period of time and today you can’t do that because you get sick from it. With AR you can, not be engrossed in something, but have it be a part of your world, of your conversation. That has resonance.”
On another occasion, he told me: “I view AR like I view the silicon here in my iPhone, it’s not a product per se, it’s a core technology. But there are things to discover before that technology is good enough for the mainstream. I do think there can be a lot of things that really help people out in daily life, real-life things, that’s why I get so excited about it.”
An AR Headset could be revealed next year
That doesn’t mean it’ll go on sale then and indeed Apple conventionally reveals new product categories long ahead of their arrival. Not least, this gives developers time to build apps for a platform, whether that’s the iPad, Apple Watch or a headset. So, it could be that WWDC 2022 will be when the details of the product will be unveiled, in readiness for a product coming to market in 2023. Holiday season 2022 isn’t impossible and is what Kuo is predicting, but I’d say it’s unlikely.
It’ll be powerful
Reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says the headset will have a processor with the same kind of processing power as the Mac and that the processor will be what sets Apple’s hardware apart from rivals.
It’ll stand alone
Unlike the first Apple Watch which was tethered to a nearby iPhone, Kuo claims that the headset will operate independently, needing neither a Mac or an iPhone to work. That’s intriguing, and confirms the level of power needed will be significant. Other rumors have suggested a iPhone will be required to use the headset.
It could replace the iPhone
Kuo says that Apple’s goal is that within a decade, the headset will replace the iPhone. I find this stunningly improbable: Apple has never sought to replace one product with another. Rather, it makes its products complement each other. Besides, who wants to wear a headset (even one as super-advanced as 2032 will bring) all the time?
Even so, the idea that you could use the headset to pick up notifications instead of glancing at your iPhone or, as now, Apple Watch, seems credible.
Twin Sony OLED displays
You understand, Apple won’t talk about who makes its displays, but Kuo claims that there will be two 4K micro OLED screens, and it may work with VR (Virtual Reality) as well as AR. Kuo says, “Apple’s AR headset requires a separate processor as the computing power of the sensor is significantly higher than that of the iPhone. For example, the AR headset requires at least 6-8 optical modules to simultaneously provide continuous video see-through AR services to users. In comparison, an iPhone requires up to 3 optical modules running simultaneously and does not require continuous computing.”
More, as they say, as we have it.
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