The convoluted creation story of Apple’s mixed reality headset

A series of reports from The Information flesh out the convoluted creation story of Apple’s mixed reality headset, a project that started in earnest way back in 2015.

Apple VR/AR headset concept by Antonio DeRosa
Apple VR/AR headset concept by Antonio DeRosa

Samuel Axon for Ars Technica:

Citing several people familiar with the product, including some who worked on it directly, the reports describe a contest of wills over the direction of the device. The standoff was between Apple’s mixed reality product team (called the “Technology Development Group”) and famed Apple designer Jony Ive and his industrial design team. The report sheds light on Apple’s direction for the device, which Bloomberg recently reported is nearing launch.

They also claim that Apple CEO Tim Cook has been relatively hands-off from the product compared to others like the iPhone, and that the Technology Development Group’s location in a separate office from the main Apple headquarters has been a source of problems and frustration…

The Information‘s reporting reveals many details about the upcoming headset. It would feature a resolution of at least 4K for each eye, which the team believed was the bare minimum for users not to perceive the image as pixelated… The headset would also have 14 cameras, some facing outward and some facing inward. It would allow users to see the outside world and enable nearby people to see a video representation of the user’s eyes. It would live track the wearer’s face and body movements to map to a 3D avatar (likely similar to the iPhone’s Memoji) that could be used to have remote meetings and social gatherings with other headset wearers who are far away.

MacDailyNews Take: Reports say Apple could announce this new mixed reality headset either later this year or next. Reports are that it will cost $2,000 – $3,000.

Back in March 2019, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that Apple’s AR glasses (which is planned to follow the larger AR/VR headset described above) will essentially act as a display with the actual computing, rendering, internet connectivity, and location services coming from the users’ iPhone.

Apple’s initial mixed-reality (VR and AR) headset is designed to be a “pricey,” high-end niche precursor to more ambitious augmented reality (AR) smartglasses that will take longer to develop, Bloomberg News reported in January 2021. The Information in February 2021 reported more details and specs, including ultra-high-resolution 8K displays and confirming a price point around $3,000 making the product an enterprise-focused offering, not for the consumer market.

The big, “pricey” VR headset will, in part, exist as a means for developers to build the next killer AR apps for true, light, powerful Apple smartglasses.MacDailyNews, February 4, 2021

Of course, that won’t preclude the Apple naysayers from screaming that the company is crazy and out-of-touch as soon as the device and its pricing are released.

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  1. ” the Technology Development Group’s location in a separate office from the main Apple headquarters has been a source of problems and frustration…”

    For all those that say in-person/back to office isn’t needed…

    1. Good one. Yes, the snowflake defenders are selfish slugs grasping at straws to maintain what think tanks, surveys, managers and plain common sense KNOW is not best for employees.

      Certainly a minority of exceptions exist in specialized fields, but no where near the majority…

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