Is it finally in 2023 that we will discover, with amazed eyes, shortness of breath and bank card in hand, Apple’s AR / VR / XR / mystR headset? Maybe yes. The Information in any case, has just revealed new details on this sea serpent which suggest an upcoming launch.
The mixed reality headset, which would look like a pair of ski goggles, would have the equivalent of a digital crown on the right side to allow the user to easily switch the display between the virtual world and the real world. Unlike the digital crown of the Apple Watch, there would be no haptic feedback. Other interactions would mostly be done using gestures and voice commands. Apple would have tested small dedicated controllers, but their realization is unclear.
While there had been talk for a while of an interchangeable strap like an Apple Watch bracelet, it would ultimately be irremovable. A replaceable strap would be technically too complicated, as this part also contains electronics. Still, third-party developers (who might be asked to create apps dedicated to the new platform) might have a special strap, potentially to make it easier to connect the device to a Mac.
Wearers of eyeglasses could integrate their custom lenses with a magnetic attachment. Mini motors would be integrated into the helmet to automatically adjust the lenses to the user’s eyes. On current VR headsets, like the Meta Quest 2, you have to manually adjust pupillary distance, with sometimes too limited settings. The Apple helmet would offer a field of vision of 120°, more than the Meta Quest Pro or the Valve Index which are limited to 106°.
The Oculus Quest 2, a prototype of Apple’s VR/AR headset?
The helmet would embed the H2 chip already at work in the AirPods Pro 2 for an ultra-low latency connection with just these headphones. The future product would also have built-in speakers, but AirPods could be useful, if not essential, for communicating with other users. In fact, the sound from the headset speakers could be heard by people next to the user. Not convenient for all situations or all videos.
Apple may release other AirPods with the H2 chip before the headphones are released so that customers have more choices. A recent rumor was precisely about new entry-level AirPods for this year.
To significantly reduce the weight of its helmet and thus improve its comfort, Apple would have chosen an external battery. You would have to wear the battery at waist level (maybe not in a pocket, it might get hot) and connect it to the helmet using a magnetic cable, to the MagSafe. So we would have a cable that would run along the bust. Autonomy would only be two hours at most. Other VR headsets don’t do much better. The advantage of Apple’s supposed system is that it would be possible to use a second external battery to extend use.
The other information relayed today by The Information are not new, but a booster shot does not hurt. The helmet, a real concentrate of technologies, would notably have two 4K micro-LED screens, a dozen cameras and sensors and an M2 chip as the main engine. It’s also said to have a dedicated image signal processor, and Apple is rumored to have customized a codec to reduce latency as much as possible.
Apple would see its brand new product as particularly good for videoconferencing, it would even be its “killer app”, with conversations led by digital avatars. If the new Cupertino platform does not risk being called metaverseit could still look like this…
The Informationwhich has already proven its reliability at many times, reiterates that the price of the helmet could amount to as much as $3,000. It will take more than VR Memoji meetings to sell it at this price.
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Apple’s mixed reality headset: its supposed specifics impress, its price too
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