Report: Apple’s first AR/VR headset faces delays

Report: Apple’s first AR/VR headset faces delays

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Enlarge / The “Sword of Damocles” head-mounted display, the original augmented reality headset, circa 1968.

Ivan Sutherland

Apple may delay the launch of its first mixed reality headset, according to Bloomberg.

Multiple sources had previously claimed that the device was likely to launch in 2022, and Apple seemed poised to introduce its new mixed reality platform to developers at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) this June.

But according to “people familiar with the situation” with whom Bloomberg reporters Mark Gurman, Takashi Mochizuki, and Debby Wu spoke, the announcement of the new headset could fall to “the end of 2022 or later, with the product hitting shelves by 2023.”

The delays are said to be due to problems with “overheating, cameras, and software.” Similar challenges reportedly delayed the headset’s introduction from an initial 2021 target, too.

Note that this product is not the long-rumored, mass-market consumer AR glasses, which are still planned for several years down the line. Rather, this is a mixed reality headset (capable of both virtual and augmented reality) that is expected to cost at least $2,000.

Previous reports claimed that the device will have 4K or 8K displays, high-quality external cameras, numerous sensors, and multiple chips, at least one of which might be comparable to the M1, if not the M1 Pro, in recent Mac computers. While the headset might be popular with some consumers, it’s likely to serve as a development platform to lay the groundwork for future, more affordable consumer headsets.

The product’s name is not yet publicly known (if it has even been decided), but Bloomberg’s Gurman speculates that it may be called Apple Vision or Apple Reality.

The rumored follow-up AR glasses pose more promise as a big new computing platform to follow the smartphone than niche, expensive VR goggles. But several remaining technological and optical barriers to producing that future product may take years to solve, if they are solved at all.

Apple will not be the first company to introduce a VR, AR, or mixed reality headset, of course. They’ve existed in various forms for decades, but Meta-owned Oculus achieved what could be described as the first mainstream success for VR, alongside Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality platform and hardcore gamer-focused headsets using the SteamVR platform, like the HTC Vive.

Because the technology is more nascent, AR glasses have been slower to come to market, but there have been some from companies like Snap. However, these devices have so far had major limitations, like impractically small fields-of-view or battery life measured in minutes rather than hours.


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