Apple's wearable AR hardware ambitions may not start with 'Apple Glass'

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 4
Former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassee says that the first version of "Apple Glass" is much more likely to be a virtual reality headset than an augmented reality wearable.

Credit: Oculus
Credit: Oculus


Rumors about the supposed augmented reality glasses have surfacing for several years alongside more general Apple AR reports. And, more recently, leaks have suggested that "Apple Glass" could debut in 2020 or 2021.

But, in a new Medium post, Gassee sees a few major problems that will arise with any set of Apple AR head-worn wearable. Instead, he expects the first Apple mixed-reality device to be a pair of virtual reality (VR) goggles.

The idea of a pair of normal-looking glasses with a heads-up display (HUD), Gassee contends, must deal with both distraction, social, and privacy issues. Gassee, for example, cites a 2015 study in the open-access PLOS journal that suggests HUD devices can be more of a distraction than a benefit.

He added that the social and privacy implications of wearing a digital device on your head must be overcome, too. Gassee brings up some of the uncomfortable "creep factor" of early Google Glass prototypes, and suggests that Apple is likely highly aware of how "Apple Glass" could be perceived.

"A privacy-conscious company such as Apple is likely to proceed with great caution, either not incorporating a camera, limiting its use, or, at the very least, providing a clear indication when the camera is running," Gassee wrote.

On the technical side, Gassee writes that "Apple Glass" would need a suite of sensors for head and body movement. Even if it relegated most of its heavier processes to a connected iPhone, it would still need both computing and battery power to work.

"We can trust Johny Srouji and his team of silicon designers to improve the performance and power consumption of Apple iPhone processors, but one can hardly believe that a CPU + battery combo capable of convincing AR, let alone VR, would fit in an eyeglass frame in the near future," he wrote.

All of that being said, Gassee expects the first head-worn device to be a pair of VR goggles that would likely tie-in to Apple's Apple Arcade gaming service.
"If Apple could untether their Goggles from the gaming rig, one could imagine an exciting future for the Apple Arcade service and its game developers -- plus another revenue stream for the company. Once the battery size challenge is dealt with, a powerful Apple Silicon chip can be harnessed to the sensing and imaging tasks required to provide first-rate and untethered hallucinations. A gaming rig that's seemingly inside your head."
There have been many rumors that conflict with Gassee's forecast, including reports from accurate leakers and analyst such as Jon Prosser and Ming-Chi Kuo. For example, Kuo expects a connected iPhone to handle most of the processing power for first-generation Apple Glass -- something that does away with the need for more powerful hardware.

Apple has also been developing AR-related technologies quietly in the background, as evidenced by its slew of headset and mixed-reality patents.

There are also some reports that strongly suggest Apple is working on both a pair of AR glasses and a separate VR headset. While Gassee could be correct in his VR predictions, Apple could also release an AR wearable alongside the gaming-focused VR device.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    No.  It is going to be augmented reality.   Not VR 

    All of Apple's focus has been for AR, namely ARKIT and the rollout of LIDAR.  Cook has emphasized several times that AR is more important than VR 

    Many of these former Apple execs seem washed up and trying to hang on to their lost "legacy".   Many don't understand the company any more 

    Tie it to Apple Arcade?    You got to be kidding me 
    edited September 2020 larryjwaderuttertjwolfRayz2016watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 18
    red oak said:
    Tie it to Apple Arcade?    You got to be kidding me 
    I could see a tie-in with Apple Arcade for AR: a huge AR screen for gaming appears in any room you want while wearing the glasses. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 18
    Apple AR has already started BIG time with the iPad Pro with LiDAR.
    Remember PrimeSense and Metaio ?  Apple bought them both.  :)

    Metaio in 2011...

    PrimeSense in 2013
    edited September 2020 tjwolfwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 18
    red oak said:
    No.  It is going to be augmented reality.   Not VR 

    All of Apple's focus has been for AR, namely ARKIT and the rollout of LIDAR.  Cook has emphasized several times that AR is more important than VR 

    Many of these former Apple execs seem washed up and trying to hang on to their lost "legacy".   Many don't understand the company any more 

    Tie it to Apple Arcade?    You got to be kidding me 
    Bloomberg reported on this not too long ago

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-19/apple-team-working-on-vr-and-ar-headset-and-ar-glasses
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 18
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,266administrator
    Apple AR has already started BIG time with the iPad Pro with LiDAR.
    Remember PrimeSense and Metaio ?

    Metaio in 2011...

    PrimeSense in 2013
    Definitely agree. But, Gassee is talking about wearables.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 18
    Considering that Steam, the only maker of a VR headset for Apple, pulled out of the platform, it makes sense for Apple to release their own VR headset. Whether or not it is a precursor to the AR headset is another question.
  • Reply 7 of 18
    Are VR headsets popular enough for Apple to go into? Is there a market there that would balloon? I've tried a few, and granted I'm old (Sigh) but for gamers is there enough upside to make it an in demand item and grow a market by 10 or 20 times? The battery is the issue. The big issue with all tech at this point, wearables especially. And they are up against science at this point on smaller, lasting longer. Until there is a huge breakthrough I don't think we get much more than we currently have on size and power available.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 18
    red oak said:
    No.  It is going to be augmented reality.   Not VR 

    All of Apple's focus has been for AR, namely ARKIT and the rollout of LIDAR.  Cook has emphasized several times that AR is more important than VR 

    Many of these former Apple execs seem washed up and trying to hang on to their lost "legacy".   Many don't understand the company any more 

    Tie it to Apple Arcade?    You got to be kidding me 
    Bloomberg reported on this not too long ago

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-19/apple-team-working-on-vr-and-ar-headset-and-ar-glasses
    While in 2018, Rockwell was advocating a separate computer for the N301 VR product for superior power, it seems to me that this separate computer could just be an iPhone. And the glasses they were pursing could use an iPhone as well for all the heavy lifting.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 18
    The article's title is kind of dumb - if Apple's AR ambitions start with a VR headset, then it's not part of their AR ambitions, it's part of their VR ambitions!

    But, like others, I think Jean-Louis Gassee is way off base: Apple, via Tim Cook, has said on many occasions that they see AR as a much more important technology than VR.  VR is too much of a niche for a huge company like Apple - not that many people will agree to wear a dorky looking headset; especially not in public.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 18
    red oak said:
    No.  It is going to be augmented reality.   Not VR 

    All of Apple's focus has been for AR, namely ARKIT and the rollout of LIDAR.  Cook has emphasized several times that AR is more important than VR 

    Many of these former Apple execs seem washed up and trying to hang on to their lost "legacy".   Many don't understand the company any more 

    Tie it to Apple Arcade?    You got to be kidding me 
    AR is more important in the productivity applications on which Apple concentrates.  VR is still more important than AR for gaming.  Of course, as I've said before, Apple doesn't seem to care very much about gaming as a primary service, only as an add-on.  While that disappoints me personally, it seems to be working for them, and that suits my portfolio just fine, as there are many other fine companies who do treat gaming as a primary focus.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 18
    tmaytmay Posts: 5,435member
    tjwolf said:
    The article's title is kind of dumb - if Apple's AR ambitions start with a VR headset, then it's not part of their AR ambitions, it's part of their VR ambitions!

    But, like others, I think Jean-Louis Gassee is way off base: Apple, via Tim Cook, has said on many occasions that they see AR as a much more important technology than VR.  VR is too much of a niche for a huge company like Apple - not that many people will agree to wear a dorky looking headset; especially not in public.

    My read is that Jean Louis Gassee sees that the technology is not yet capable of performing in the form factor of glasses, yet anyway. It's possible that a UWB link to an iPhone would give the bandwidth necessary for reasonable performance, I suppose, but what would the glasses actually be useful for without full functionality, whatever that would be, without looking alien in public?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 18
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,764member
    A VR headset is a very un-Apple product. I’d always assumed the extreme investment in wireless streaming tech would extend to video too and the 1st gen glasses would be a remote smart UI product similar to the 1st gen Apple Watch.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 18
    red oak said:
    No.  It is going to be augmented reality.   Not VR 

    All of Apple's focus has been for AR, namely ARKIT and the rollout of LIDAR.  Cook has emphasized several times that AR is more important than VR 

    Many of these former Apple execs seem washed up and trying to hang on to their lost "legacy".   Many don't understand the company any more 

    Tie it to Apple Arcade?    You got to be kidding me 
    Why is that hard to understand? Tim Cook has been courting AR/VR game developers for the last couple years. They likely have some exclusives locked down. Why not Arcade? Feels natural to me that would be one of the tent poles. Yes the article references VR in its comparison to the Oculus Quest, but they are talking about AR/VR combo.
    edited September 2020
  • Reply 15 of 18

    tjwolf said:
    The article's title is kind of dumb - if Apple's AR ambitions start with a VR headset, then it's not part of their AR ambitions, it's part of their VR ambitions!

    But, like others, I think Jean-Louis Gassee is way off base: Apple, via Tim Cook, has said on many occasions that they see AR as a much more important technology than VR.  VR is too much of a niche for a huge company like Apple - not that many people will agree to wear a dorky looking headset; especially not in public.

    If you read the article, he is suggesting VR-like AR goggles. An AR headset wouldn’t be for use in public.  That is what the rumored glass is for. The headset would have more sensors and processing power to run richer experiences. The glass would just be a HUD on steroids. There have been reports of Tim Cook visiting AR game devs for awhile now. Remote in person experiences, AR meetings, remote social experiences, big screen TV anywhere (including 2D games), and a few music themed AR video games and this will sell. The Oculus Quest had already been replacing games like DDR, Garage Band, and wii among young adults. With Oculus rumored to be releasing a $300 headset with 4K resolution and twice as much processing power this week it will only become more popular. If anything getting in to hardware that is popular for music themed social games feels very Apple.  I can already see the iPod-like commercials. Over time AR will replace other screens and no longer be niche. You could have called the iPad niche when it first came out. 

    Although probably unlikely, it would be hilarious if Apple announces a headset for release early next year the day before FaceBook releases their most mainstream headset to date.
    edited September 2020
  • Reply 16 of 18

    That is the headset that tethers to another device. A stand-alone headset continued development. Apple has the silicon prowess to release something at least 2 years more advanced then the Oculus Quest 2. It feels like we must be getting close to the technological point for Apple to jump in.
    edited September 2020 tmay
  • Reply 17 of 18
    Does this mean the full Iron Man suit, just the helmet, or the EDITH-enabled spectacles?
  • Reply 18 of 18

    That is the headset that tethers to another device. A stand-alone headset continued development. Apple has the silicon prowess to release something at least 2 years more advanced then the Oculus Quest 2. It feels like we must be getting close to the technological point for Apple to jump in.
    I was just bringing it up in the context that Ive wasn't into the idea of a VR headset as it takes you out of the world around you, versus an AR headset which integrates with the world around you. It's an interesting philosophical approach to the the bigger picture, not so much whether something is tethered or whatever. 

    As a PSVR user who absolutely loves that product, I'm extremely excited about further advances in that technology, as well as whatever Apple has cooking in the AR field. 
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