New leaks on the characteristics of Apple’s future mixed reality headset

New year, new leaks regarding the mixed reality headset that is preparing Apple. And as often, these come from the specialized media The Information. Dated January 3, the article details a multitude of technical characteristics and functionalities of the product, which would now be in the advanced validation phases in anticipation of a launch this year (after yet another postponement).

Its design would still be close to that unveiled in February 2021 (again by The Information), that is to say very thin and close to the face, somewhat resembling a ski mask. Apple would mainly use premium materials like aluminum, glass and carbon fiber in order to reduce the weight to a minimum.

An external battery, like the Magic Leap

The battery would also be remote and would be worn on the belt, connected to the helmet by means of a cable with magnetic connector of the MagSafe type. A decision that may surprise coming from Apple, and which would not a priori have been the first choice but more a necessity in order to guarantee the most lightness possible at the level of the face. Battery life wouldn’t exceed two hours, but that wouldn’t be too much of a bother given that it would be interchangeable.

Several attachment systems have been designed, including one made of the same material as the “sport” straps of Apple Watch watches. However, the final system will not be interchangeable. It would incorporate speakers, as usual for these devices, and would be made to be used with the AirPods Pro thanks in particular to the integration of an H2 chip for a very low latency connection. On the other hand, wireless headphones from other brands would not be compatible, nor would wired headphones.

4K per eye, 120° field of view

The helmet would use two Micro OLED screens with a resolution of 4K per eye and these would be manufactured by sony (note that Sony does not use screens of this type in its own upcoming headset, the PSVR 2). Its field of view would be 120°, and it would have cameras to track the gaze and do foveal rendering to reduce the computing power required to display all those pixels. The adjustment of the interpupillary distance would be done automatically, the lenses being motorized. Vision correction lenses that attach magnetically would be available as an option.

More than a dozen other sensors would be used to track facial expressions and body movements (arms, hands, legs), Apple favoring interaction with hands and voice rather than the use of game controllers. And on the front of the helmet, other sensors would be placed to map the environment and allow the helmet to find its way around, including several Lidars. It’s not hard to imagine, Apple having a lead in this area thanks to its smartphones.

A dedicated ISP chip to reduce display latency

The computing power would be provided by two chips: a System-on-a-Chip combining CPU, GPU, HBM memory and others, and an ISP chip dedicated to image processing whose role would be to merge the images from the different cameras and to correct the distortion before displaying the result to the user. Having a dedicated chip would reduce latency in displaying images. The two components would be etched in 5 nm.

The device being resolutely designed for mixed reality (the possibility of going from a “virtual reality” mode in a 100% digital environment to an “augmented reality” mode where we perceive what surrounds us), a wheel of the kind of the “Digital Crown” of the Apple Watch would allow you to easily switch from one mode to another. In addition, on the front of the helmet, there would also be a low-power screen that would reproduce the facial expressions of the user, a trick to reduce the feeling of isolation that VR helmets cause in some people.

Gaming would not be a priority

As mentioned above, the device would not a priori be accompanied by controllers, even if Apple has tested some internally, and video games would not be among its main uses. Instead, the company would have focused on communication through avatars with expressions very faithful to those of users. Some “classic” virtual reality applications would nevertheless be compatible thanks to a partnership with Unity. Other use cases such as the use of a 3D map have also been developed, and classic 2D iOS applications would also be compatible with the device.

As rumors had indicated in the past, the price of the headset would still be around $3000.

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New leaks on the characteristics of Apple’s future mixed reality headset

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