Apple AR headset in 2022 will have M1-level processing power, says Ming-Chi Kuo

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited November 2021
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has reaffirmed predictions that the first Apple AR headset will launch at the end of 2022, but now says it will be a much more powerful device than expected.

Credit: AppleInsider
Credit: AppleInsider


Backing up his previous claim that Apple will launch its first augmented reality headset at the end of 2022, Ming-Chi Kuo says it will be a standalone device.

Recent rumors have pointed to the first Apple AR headset being an accompaniment to the iPhone, much as the Apple Watch is. Specifically, it has been believed that the headset would offload most of its processing to the iPhone.

Now, however, in a note to investors, Kuo has said that the headset will have a main processor that is the equivalent of the M1. What's more, it will have a second processor that handles all sensor-related computing, for example with eye tracking and gaze detection.

"[The] computing power of the sensor is significantly higher than that of the iPhone," said Kuo. "[The main processor will have] the same level of computing power as Macs. The power management unit (PMU) design of the high-end processor is similar to that of M1 because it has the same level of computing power."

Kup predicts that the headset will feature two 4K micro-OLED displays, made by Sony, "which require significantly more computing power than the iPhone, thus needing a Mac-level processor."

Kuo further claims that the device will support a "comprehensive range of applications rather than specific applications." So rather than being, effectively, bespoke for certain AR purposes, it could perhaps enable a headset App Store.

"Apple's goal is to replace the iPhone with AR in ten years," continues Kuo, "representing the demand... [for headsets will] exceed at least one billion... in ten years."

Kuo's conclusion there may be based less on inside information, than on market analysis.

"If the AR headset is positioned only as an accessory for the Mac or iPhone, it will not be conducive to the growth of the product," he says. "An AR headset that works independently means that it will have its own ecosystem and provide the most complete and flexible user experience."

Separately, investment bank Morgan Stanley has recently claimed that Apple will be launching AR soon. It also advised clients that the AR field will see "liftoff" once Apple enters the market.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,318member
    The optics and driving of the screens seems to me to be the least interesting part.  Existing players in the space have got the headset, screens and motion movement down reasonably well.  The far more interesting aspect is what Apple will do with UI, and the actually functionality of the thing.  Without some real movement in those, meh, it's just another toy.
    MacsWithPenguinsrepressthiswatto_cobrabyronl
  • Reply 2 of 11
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 1,024member
    May Apple destroy Metta or whatever FaceBook tries to call itself at that point in time.  

    The expertise that Apple has built up with Apple Silicon continues to make more and more sense.
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 11
    It's a really exciting idea, I must say, because there is definitely already a market, although tiny at the moment because of huge prices for VR HUDs and always (ok no, but usually) a requirement to own an expensive, loud desktop PC with insanely expensive RTX card from the scalper market. I think Apple is going to show something "kind of impressive" in the first iteration, and a year later, the VR App Store is going to have tens of thousands of apps in all sorts of areas we haven't seen used to their full potential yet. Games are already mainstream in VR, but Apple can bring innovation in hospital simulation/medical appliance apps, surgery training, etc. There's all sorts of things: maybe driver's school apps where people can simulate driving inside a car and stuff. I mean, actual driving school simulations as a bonus complementary training to real driving – not kids games. 

    I can also see a future where health-related apps will offer users wild experiences: "climb the Mount Everest from the comfort of your home – no freezing, nothing dangerous going on at all!". Just imagine those TV commercials and Youtube ads: "tired of lockdowns? Have you not been able to travel the world for several years? Well, the wait is over! Travel in VR to every place of the world! Climb every high mountain – and sync it to your Apple Watch. Get the Himalaya Climber Achievement in the morning and sit on your bike with your VR goggles on, experiencing a live stream of a Tour de France biker in the evening from their head-mounted camera!".

    I mean ... what can you do to try impress buyers with a smartphone these days? "Buy the latest iPhone so you can continue watch some more .. uhm .. Instagram videos, and ... read the latest newspapers .. and play some mobile games". Despite still being popular and used every day, every minute, people already have smartphones and it's just everyday business as usual, so people keep their current smartphones for longer and it's getting tougher to convince people to upgrade as often as some manufacturers might have hoped.

    I also imagine the stock price going through the roof for AAPL if it takes off in a big way. But on the other hand, with the wrong price, there might be a few select people buying it. It depends on their strategy.
    edited November 2021 byronlwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 11
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,668moderator
    Backing up his previous claim that Apple will launch its first augmented reality headset at the end of 2022, Ming-Chi Kuo says it will be a standalone device.

    Recent rumors have pointed to the first Apple AR headset being an accompaniment to the iPhone, much as the Apple Watch is. Specifically, it has been believed that the headset would offload most of its processing to the iPhone.

    Now, however, in a note to investors, Kuo has said that the headset will have a main processor that is the equivalent of the M1. What's more, it will have a second processor that handles all sensor-related computing, for example with eye tracking and gaze detection.

    Kuo further claims that the device will support a "comprehensive range of applications rather than specific applications." So rather than being, effectively, bespoke for certain AR purposes, it could perhaps enable a headset App Store.

    "Apple's goal is to replace the iPhone with AR in ten years," continues Kuo, "representing the demand... [for headsets will] exceed at least one billion... in ten years."
    It would be a challenge making it fully independent. While that's the ideal setup, having a device useful enough to replace an iPhone requires it to be wearable all day and last all day on battery. There has to be a compromise somewhere. Strapping an iPhone sized battery to someone's head isn't an elegant solution, especially if it's to be worn outdoors and for a long period of time. Maybe if it was combined with an Airpods Max style design with headphones it could distribute the weight but I think for audio they'd want to be able to use standard Airpods.

    There are AR glasses that connect to a smartphone like these Nreal glasses, launching next year:



    Around 19:30, it shows the view as seen from the camera. Apple would have better quality displays, better stabilization with LIDAR, better UI, better apps.

    This design with offloading processing to the phone makes for a much lighter wearable:





    If they can manage to get an M1-class chip in a standalone unit, that would be great but the iPhone has in the region of a 10Wh battery and that battery is too big to fit on a head wearable. Oculus Quest 2 has a 14Wh battery and that is a bulky unit. Airpods Max headphones use a 2.4Wh battery. I think realistically they'd be limited to 5Wh or less for a comfortable wearable.

    Straps are commonly worn on glasses and it would be much more comfortable to fit processing hardware into the strap. That could be something different than a smartphone like a product similar to an Airpods Pro case and could even carry Airpods so they share the same battery.



    This gives the option to connect to different sized devices for different battery power and much more flexibility on the design of the glasses. The glasses could have a much smaller internal battery for basic use.

    Potentially a 3nm M3 chip could work ok with a 5Wh battery on the wearable and there would be room to improve with further iterations but I think for long-term comfort, it would be better having the battery and processing hardware off the wearable with just the tracking and display handled by the glasses.

    It would be good for filming that way because someone could hold a separate box with the cameras steady and be looking in a different place while seeing in the glasses what the camera is filming.

    It could be a mix of both standalone and tethered depending on use case. Going out running and using it for directions/music/fitness tracking while connected to Airpods would have lower processing requirements than streaming a movie or playing a game.

    It's going to be great for watching movies, being able to have a 200" wall-sized virtual display fixed in position but using no space in the house.
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 11
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,504member
    Marvin said:
    Backing up his previous claim that Apple will launch its first augmented reality headset at the end of 2022, Ming-Chi Kuo says it will be a standalone device.

    Recent rumors have pointed to the first Apple AR headset being an accompaniment to the iPhone, much as the Apple Watch is. Specifically, it has been believed that the headset would offload most of its processing to the iPhone.

    Now, however, in a note to investors, Kuo has said that the headset will have a main processor that is the equivalent of the M1. What's more, it will have a second processor that handles all sensor-related computing, for example with eye tracking and gaze detection.

    Kuo further claims that the device will support a "comprehensive range of applications rather than specific applications." So rather than being, effectively, bespoke for certain AR purposes, it could perhaps enable a headset App Store.

    "Apple's goal is to replace the iPhone with AR in ten years," continues Kuo, "representing the demand... [for headsets will] exceed at least one billion... in ten years."

    If they can manage to get an M1-class chip in a standalone unit, that would be great but the iPhone has in the region of a 10Wh battery and that battery is too big to fit on a head wearable. Oculus Quest 2 has a 14Wh battery and that is a bulky unit. Airpods Max headphones use a 2.4Wh battery. I think realistically they'd be limited to 5Wh or less for a comfortable wearable.

    Straps are commonly worn on glasses and it would be much more comfortable to fit processing hardware into the strap. That could be something different than a smartphone like a product similar to an Airpods Pro case and could even carry Airpods so they share the same battery.

    Odd that you completely left out the watch when talking about battery capacity. If there's any device that you would look at as far feature set and power usage, it would be the watch.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 11
    mjtomlin said:
    Marvin said:
    Backing up his previous claim that Apple will launch its first augmented reality headset at the end of 2022, Ming-Chi Kuo says it will be a standalone device.

    Recent rumors have pointed to the first Apple AR headset being an accompaniment to the iPhone, much as the Apple Watch is. Specifically, it has been believed that the headset would offload most of its processing to the iPhone.

    Now, however, in a note to investors, Kuo has said that the headset will have a main processor that is the equivalent of the M1. What's more, it will have a second processor that handles all sensor-related computing, for example with eye tracking and gaze detection.

    Kuo further claims that the device will support a "comprehensive range of applications rather than specific applications." So rather than being, effectively, bespoke for certain AR purposes, it could perhaps enable a headset App Store.

    "Apple's goal is to replace the iPhone with AR in ten years," continues Kuo, "representing the demand... [for headsets will] exceed at least one billion... in ten years."

    If they can manage to get an M1-class chip in a standalone unit, that would be great but the iPhone has in the region of a 10Wh battery and that battery is too big to fit on a head wearable. Oculus Quest 2 has a 14Wh battery and that is a bulky unit. Airpods Max headphones use a 2.4Wh battery. I think realistically they'd be limited to 5Wh or less for a comfortable wearable.

    Straps are commonly worn on glasses and it would be much more comfortable to fit processing hardware into the strap. That could be something different than a smartphone like a product similar to an Airpods Pro case and could even carry Airpods so they share the same battery.

    Odd that you completely left out the watch when talking about battery capacity. If there's any device that you would look at as far feature set and power usage, it would be the watch.
    Huh? The Apple Watch is left off the conversation because it is woefully underpowered for AR. Comparing it to iPhone is the closest comparison but still an iPhone is underpowered. Currently, you cannot have an M1 like SOC in a package the size of an Apple Watch. For the upcoming headset the battery size is going to be a major limiting factor for both power and design. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 11
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,856member
    Well it’d better have an HDMI & USB-A ports and look just like an expensive version of the others or there’ll be hell to pay!

    I’m surprised at this. Given the specialisation I thought they would produce a custom processing block for AR rendering at minimum power draw. Probably derived from their G14 GPU cores and a broader drive at 3D efficiency (MBPs are 2D Kings but 3D needs work). They will also need their own lightweight 3D engine.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 11
    Several VR headsets work this way with a separate processing unit for the headset and a host computer for running software and generating the graphics. The PSVR, for example, has a processing unit box with its own digital processor. It is responsible for warping the video around a sphere and generating the stereo video frames displayed in the headset. It also generates the 3D sound as you turn your heads. It is quite a powerful processor and even has its own heat sink. The Meta Quest takes this a step further and can do everything including run the apps, generate the 3D graphics in addition to the frame warping right on the headset processor. To put this another way, it would be quite strange if Apple did not have some processing capability built into their AR headset.
  • Reply 9 of 11
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,709member
    What sort of magic allows all that power all those pixels and battery in glasses that look like thin wire frames that Steve use to wear?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 11
    If these should ever have a chance to replace the iPhone they will have to be able to be worn at all places the iPhone is used today — not just in an office or gaming cave. Existing players in the space are not even close to offering such a device. The headsets of today are simply too clumsy, ugly and uncomfortable. And the screen qualities are so low they quickly strain both the eyes and the brain.

    Especially the optics and driving of the screens are limiting factors that will require radical innovation to solve. I think there is a major opportunity for any new player to grab a frontline position if they can solve this issue. I believe Apple is a worthy contender for this, and I think they have something going which will be a game changer.

    Naturally, the entire user interface paradigm will need to be changed to suit all the new use cases that follow from this form factor. But I have the greatest trust that Apple will rule in this regime. I can’t wait to see what they’ve come up with as the next device to define our digital age.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 11
    It's a really exciting idea, I must say, because there is definitely already a market, although tiny at the moment because of huge prices for VR HUDs and always (ok no, but usually) a requirement to own an expensive, loud desktop PC with insanely expensive RTX card from the scalper market. I think Apple is going to show something "kind of impressive" in the first iteration, and a year later, the VR App Store is going to have tens of thousands of apps in all sorts of areas we haven't seen used to their full potential yet. Games are already mainstream in VR, but Apple can bring innovation in hospital simulation/medical appliance apps, surgery training, etc. There's all sorts of things: maybe driver's school apps where people can simulate driving inside a car and stuff. I mean, actual driving school simulations as a bonus complementary training to real driving – not kids games. 

    I can also see a future where health-related apps will offer users wild experiences: "climb the Mount Everest from the comfort of your home – no freezing, nothing dangerous going on at all!". Just imagine those TV commercials and Youtube ads: "tired of lockdowns? Have you not been able to travel the world for several years? Well, the wait is over! Travel in VR to every place of the world! Climb every high mountain – and sync it to your Apple Watch. Get the Himalaya Climber Achievement in the morning and sit on your bike with your VR goggles on, experiencing a live stream of a Tour de France biker in the evening from their head-mounted camera!".

    I mean ... what can you do to try impress buyers with a smartphone these days? "Buy the latest iPhone so you can continue watch some more .. uhm .. Instagram videos, and ... read the latest newspapers .. and play some mobile games". Despite still being popular and used every day, every minute, people already have smartphones and it's just everyday business as usual, so people keep their current smartphones for longer and it's getting tougher to convince people to upgrade as often as some manufacturers might have hoped.

    I also imagine the stock price going through the roof for AAPL if it takes off in a big way. But on the other hand, with the wrong price, there might be a few select people buying it. It depends on their strategy.
    Seems like you are confusing VR (virtual reality) with AR (augmented reality).  The former is completely immersive and much farther away from being executed up to Apples standards.  The later simply overlays information / visuals over the wearers vision and is what this article is addressing.
    byronlwatto_cobrajeffythequick
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