Apple preparing to release AR headset in 2020

Apple preparing to release AR headset in 2020

This morning, Bloomberg reported that Apple is indeed working on an AR (augmented reality) device, aiming to ship in 2020.

Unlike current rival headsets from competitors, which tend to clip a smartphone into the headset, Apple's augmented-reality headset will be a standalone product that will have its own display, and will run on a new chip and operating system. The headset would feature its own display rather than relying an iPhone, and it would run a new spin-off from iOS in the vein of watchOS or tvOS, now called rOS internally, for "reality operating system".

Geoff Stahl, a former software manager for games and graphics at Apple, is said to be one of the directors of the rOS development team.

It is not yet known how users will control or interact with the AR projections, but Apple is reportedly experimenting with head gestures, Gear VR-style touch panel input, and Siri voice commands, among others.

Speaking of hardware, Apple's metal framing and case supplier for the iPhone, Catcher Technology, says it will start making lightweight casing for augmented reality devices, reports Nikkei. Anonymous sources told Bloomberg that the HTC Vive is the headset of choice for developers.

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Earlier this month, CEO Tim Cook made his view on AR clear. At the time, Cook said that such a product won't be ready "anytime soon".

The headset could work similarly to the AR applications that are already available for Apple's new iPhones. Further, the report noted that one of the teams is working on a pair of glasses that are equipped with a 3D camera, but no screen.

Of particular note here is the distinction between virtual and augmented reality. He didn't outright deny the rumours though, instead explaining there are technological issues preventing AR going mainstream this decade.

"We're already seeing things that will transform the way you work, play, connect and learn". Cook also said that the display technology required for that kind of product poses huge challenges. If the plans go ahead, the result could become Apple's most significant new device in years. The release of the device is at least two years away, but the 2020-ish launch will likely be preceded by an announcement and developer SDK in 2019. Rockwell previously ran engineering at Dolby Labs.

In his interview with Nikkei, Catcher CEO Allen Horng said that his company is now working on an AR device, but stopped short of specifically naming Apple. It's being built by the same team building on ARKit, which Bloomberg confirms was a first step to testing and building an AR ecosystem before the hardware was ready. With the Google Glass, the search giant tried to get AR into the mainstream, but privacy concerns marred its ambitions.

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