$3,000 Apple mixed-reality visor could debut in 2022 with premium features

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 4
A rumored Apple mixed-reality headset could have a suite of high-end eye- and hand-tracking sensors and cameras, swappable headbands, and a visor-like design, according to a new report.

Credit: AppleInsider
Credit: AppleInsider


The device could sport more than a dozen cameras for hand movement tracking and to show users a video feed of the world. It could also have advanced eye-tracking technology and ultra-high-resolution 8K displays, along with a "bevy" of other features, The Information reported on Thursday.

Apple MR headset features

Late stage prototypes and concept images of the device show a curved visor-like form factor with that attaches to the face with a mesh material and swappable headbands. The Information created a concept rendering of the headset based on images of Apple's prototypes.

Credit: The Information
Credit: The Information


Instead of a pure augmented reality (AR) device, sources within Apple said that the visor is being internally referred to as an MR device because of its "ability to combine virtual reality experiences with games and other applications that use real-life objects surrounding the person wearing the headset."

Currently, the focus of the device could be games or possibly productivity and education applications. The device, codenamed N301, is said to immerse a wearer in a fully virtual environment like Oculus Quest. It will also block a user's peripheral vision, but will pass a view of the world around them to create a mixed-reality effect.

In addition to hand- and eye-tracking, Apple is also developing other control mechanisms for it. One possible method would be a thimble-like device worn on a user's finger that could allow them to control software. It isn't clear if that accessory will be bundled with it or sold separately.

Some prototypes also appear to have a physical dial or crown on the side. All versions appear to have LIDAR technology, which Apple already uses in its iPhone and iPad Pro lineup to quickly map objects and environments.

An outward-facing display on the device could show users information when it's not in use. Interchangeable headbands could feature spatial audio technology like the AirPods Max or AirPods Pro. Users will be able to charge it with a cable, though Apple is also working on a swappable headband with additional battery life.

According to Apple sources, the MR device will come equipped with in-house chips. Apple may also be planning to reduce computer power by showering lower-quality graphics in a user's peripheral vision. The inclusion of 8K displays will make its overall picture quality much higher than other consumer headsets, and even most high-end televisions.

Apple MR headset release date and price

The device could ship as early as 2022. Apple has reportedly tapped Pegatron to assemble it. However, because of the complexity of the device and the risk with entering a new niche product market, Apple could ultimately decide to scrap or shelve the project.

Price could add to the risk. In 2020, Apple reportedly discussed pricing the device around $3,000 -- more expensive than an MacBook Pro but less expensive than Microsoft's $3,500 HoloLens.

Initially, Apple has talked about a goal of shipping about 250,000 units of the device in its first year of release. That's largely due to its high price.

Apple's past augmented and virtual reality work

Apple has been developing virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality technology for years. In addition to rumors of various headset devices and its public work on ARKit, the Cupertino tech giant also has a slew of patents related to head-worn devices.

Many of those patents and patent applications focus on eye tracking, which the MR headset is said to have. Other patents detail different systems, including technology to keep users from bumping into real-world objects while immersed in a virtual environment.

Back in March 2020, an early iOS 14 leak also suggested that Apple was working on controller-like accessories for a virtual reality product.

The MR headset is also not the same device as Apple's rumored AR-based "Apple Glass." That device is said to have a more glasses-like device, a much lower price point, and a bigger focus on complementing an iPhone in a user's day-to-day life.

Back in September 2020, a former Apple executive predicted that Apple's first foray into head-worn visual devices would be a virtual reality - instead of an augmented reality -- device.

According to The Information, Apple is still working on a pair of "lightweight smart glasses designed to overlay objects onto a person's view of the real world." That device, which is facing steep technological hurdles, is still years away from release.

In October 2019, Apple planned to ship its MR headset by 2022 and its "Apple Glass" AR device in 2023. Those plans may have changed.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    Can the average person pay $3,000 for a headset like this? Can an above-average earner even afford this? This needs to be completely disposable income (I’m sure this will be somewhat controversial and there will be many different views on how income would be determined to be disposable). Most people that will buy this should probably be putting that money in a retirement or savings account and planning for their future. The people that can afford this without any considerations, probably have all the money they need. I mean, I could afford these if they came out right now, but I don’t think I could justify it. Maybe those are just my demons. 

    It costs as much as one of their higher-end laptops. I’m already having issues with the high cost of their iPhones even though I can afford one for myself and my partner every year at the current cost. It just seems like a whole lot. 
    edited February 4
  • Reply 2 of 22
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,471member
    Of course the thimble will be extra...
  • Reply 3 of 22
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,600member
    DOA IMHO.  
  • Reply 4 of 22
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,730member
    jd_in_sb said:
    DOA IMHO.  
    No, no, I think it will surprise you. A 1.0 product, at that price, Apple will sell a lot, like maybe tens of them. It might take BOTH hands to count them. /s 🤣
    jd_in_sbelijahg
  • Reply 5 of 22
    This rumor sounded nuts to me until I saw in the article that MS has a $3500 product in this space.  Wow.

    I think I'll wait until Apple actually announces something and explains the expected use case before I venture an opinion.  This could be an industrial product for all I know.
    lkruppmuthuk_vanalingambyronlramanpfaffwatto_cobrabeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 6 of 22
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,471member
    This rumor sounded nuts to me until I saw in the article that MS has a $3500 product in this space.  Wow.

    I think I'll wait until Apple actually announces something and explains the expected use case before I venture an opinion.  This could be an industrial product for all I know.
    Yep, the knee jerk reaction is always about Apple being overpriced until some other product, like Samsung’s $2,000.00 folding phone or the $3,500.00 product mentioned here, comes along to debunk it. Just because the masses can’t afford something doesn’t mean it’s DOA. Take Tesla for example. The masses can’t afford the Model 3 or the new Y either but they are selling. The masses will be left to buy some tiny, low range EV from GM for $35K.
    edited February 4 randominternetpersonpatchythepiratebyronlStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 22
    As the article points out, this product will have a different use profile when compared to the AR product, which is expected to have more consumer friendly pricing.  Just like there is a market for the Pro Display XDR, there will be a carefully considered market for a high price tag MR product before Apple releases it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 22
    A $3000 price tag means the device is aimed at enterprise not consumers. This is fine except for one thing: Apple still lags far behind NVIDIA and AMD when it comes to graphics performance. For example, the M1 chip's integrated graphics are pretty decent but are only about 1/10th as fast as a typical gamer GPU. This really matters when it comes to mixed reality. An Apple M series chip could compete with the Oculus Quest 2 but not at ten times the price tag. Hopefully Apple has some amazing GPU chips that they are getting ready to announce in the next year and have plans for a consumer MR device in a few years. Of course by then the market will look completely different with new competitors with beefy hardware as well.
    elijahg
  • Reply 9 of 22
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,904member
    lkrupp said:
    This rumor sounded nuts to me until I saw in the article that MS has a $3500 product in this space.  Wow.

    I think I'll wait until Apple actually announces something and explains the expected use case before I venture an opinion.  This could be an industrial product for all I know.
    Yep, the knee jerk reaction is always about Apple being overpriced until some other product, like Samsung’s $2,000.00 folding phone or the $3,500.00 product mentioned here, comes along to debunk it. Just because the masses can’t afford something doesn’t mean it’s DOA. Take Tesla for example. The masses can’t afford the Model 3 or the new Y either but they are selling. The masses will be left to buy some tiny, low range EV from GM for $35K.
    Although I think many of Apple's products are overpriced I agree with you. New technologies benefit from niche markets and future users benefit down the line.

    This product, as described, is not a consumer mass market product. Just like folding phones aren't - at the moment. 
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 10 of 22
    sergiozsergioz Posts: 338member
    I am buying one ☝️ placing my preorder  immediately!  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 22
    Hopefully Apple has some amazing GPU chips that they are getting ready to announce in the next year and have plans for a consumer MR device in a few years. Of course by then the market will look completely different with new competitors with beefy hardware as well.
    Ummm... what if they end up with the same power/performance ratios they currently enjoy with the M1? IOW, something that keeps up with the current GPU pack but doesn't require a 1,000-watt power supply and enough fans to cool a server rack?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 22
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,005member
    macbear01 said:
    Can the average person pay $3,000 for a headset like this? Can an above-average earner even afford this? 
    What is an average earner?  The median household income is around $70,000 a year.  Over 20 million people earn $100,000 or more in the US.  Depending on their personal finances and propensity to spend money on non-essential goods, then the answer is yes. 

    Why does it even matter?  Obviously the market for things like 3 million dollar supercars is finite, but that's not a reason to not offer 3 million dollar supercars. 

    Apple couldn't care less whether it sells 1 million or 100 million. I'm sure they would like to see 100 million, but their goal has always been to maximize profit and offer a stellar product, not to capture the largest market share with the cheapest crap they can produce.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 22
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,896member
    If it's going to have premium features, it really should be premium-priced.
    edited February 4 watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 22
    Hilarious how there are always ppl whining about price. Who predicted lidar hand sensing from the headset itself?? That setup is going to require tons of sensors and cameras apparently. Who are these geniuses that think this can be cheap? Of course the initial generations are going to be very expensive.

    This is going to be mind blowing btw, as I’m sure it will be released along with a 3D map of the world, where you can physically walk down the street and be able to bump into someone’s virtual avatar also ‘walking’ on the street and have a face to avatar-face conversation. 

    Also, I’m very excited that Apple has the resources, discipline, and patience to pursue a version of this technology that doesn’t require putting on motion gloves or something like that. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 22
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,749member
    I'm not going to be tempted to judge it based on any hardware rumours, it's going to live or die on what software Apple offers for it, and the developer proposition, both of which I doubt we'll hear anything about until Tim stands on a stage and gives a shipping date.  If Apple has a killer UI and/or a functionality that offers somethiing new and innovative then I'm sure its value will become a lot clearer than some guesses about tech spec and hardware design.
  • Reply 16 of 22
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,896member
    The visor will be required to take advantage of the wasted space (double spacing) in Big Sur Mail's "Column Layout" view and in Contacts, to select items by looking at them. Anyone without an expensive visor will just have to suffer with the inefficiency of Big Sur, because there's no user-configurability to restore single spacing.
    edited February 4
  • Reply 17 of 22
    I wonder if a key target audience is DEVELOPERS of AR/VR software. Apple wants there to be a broad set of AR/VR apps to justify future purchases of Apple Glass (or even Apple Car), so maybe this is an extension of the SDK to seed that developer market.
    fastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 22
    brianusbrianus Posts: 147member
    I could maybe see it being for developers to create apps for a future AR product, whether the glasses or to simulate the experience of an Apple Car. 

    Besides that though, when does Apple ever make premium products that are just for "enterprise"? That's really not their MO..
    fastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 22
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,691member
    I wonder if a key target audience is DEVELOPERS of AR/VR software. Apple wants there to be a broad set of AR/VR apps to justify future purchases of Apple Glass (or even Apple Car), so maybe this is an extension of the SDK to seed that developer market.
    Not just software, but content using existing software that could be updated for this platform. Any number of apps that do or have supported VR headsets for development of stereo/3D video, 360 video, VR development, so forth. Unreal Engine and Unity 3D game engine, After Effects/Premiere and various plugins for those, Final Cut Pro/Motion even supported 360 video. In the past it's been sort of halfway supported in macOS via SteamVR, which Valve discontinued last year, and the HTC Vive headset. With that not having really developed and now being abandoned, Apple may be interested in just controlling the stack in this segment at least on the content development side of things. So, this could be the pro tool that works natively with macOS and all these apps will be able to build out proper support for it to enable content creators to develop all of these things, plus get a head start on AR stuff for their glasses. Consumer devices to consume this stuff within the Apple ecosystem can come later.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 22
    Want one yesterday Apple... cant wait!
    patchythepiratewatto_cobra
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