Apple’s interest in augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) is well-known, as evidenced by a recent report that it is working on a VR headset that might also offer AR capabilities. A new report from The Information has now given us a rumored price for the device, and at $3,000, it sure ain’t cheap. That is less than the $3,500 Microsoft HoloLens 2, but its price hardly makes it a consumer-friendly gadget.
If you are interested in this premium headset, what will you get for your (considerable) outlay? Well, the device will pack in dual 8K displays, giving an eye-poppingly good experience for your grateful peepers. By way of comparison, the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite has a resolution of a “mere” 2880 x 1700 pixels. Apple is pulling no punches here.
Interestingly, the report from The Information claims that you will not actually always see the full 8K resolution. Instead, Apple’s headset will use clever eye-tracking tech to determine what parts of the screen you are looking at, then lower the resolution on the peripherals. That would presumably ensure the battery lasts longer than, say, two minutes while still showing the resource-hogging high-res goodness where it matters.
Speaking of the battery, Apple’s VR kit is expected to use Apple Silicon processors similar to the M1 chip currently used in its MacBook range. These ARM-based processors are incredibly power-efficient, which is a good thing, as Bloomberg has previously reported that the Apple headset will be an entirely wireless device.
The Information shared a drawing of the headset, which it said was based on “internal Apple images of a late-stage prototype from last year.” Interestingly, the headset apparently takes cues from several other Apple devices, including the Apple Watch silicone band fastener and the HomePod’s mesh fabric. This seemingly continues a trend found in the AirPods Max headphones, which also borrowed design elements from other Apple devices.
As for control methods, the headset will incorporate up to a dozen cameras and lidar sensors, allowing for hand tracking and eye tracking, as well as a combination of AR and VR experiences (with an emphasis on the latter). There could also be a dial on the side of the device, plus a “thimble-like” accessory, although this is yet to be finalized.
According to The Information and the earlier Bloomberg report, this headset is expected to be the first step toward Apple’s real goal: A lightweight pair of AR glasses dubbed Apple Glass. While the mixed-reality headset could launch as soon as next year, the AR glasses are still several years from hitting the shelves.
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