Apple's mixed reality headset could be what the entire AR/VR market needs to succeed

Posted:
in General Discussion
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that that to date, investors have overestimated customers' actual desire and demand for mixed and virtual reality headsets -- but that could change with Apple.

A render of a potential Apple headset [AppleInsider]
A render of a potential Apple headset [AppleInsider]


On Wednesday, Ming-Chi Kuo posted his thoughts on the current state of AR/VR headsets to Medium. He believes that consumers may not be ready to adopt AR/VR just yet.

Kuo says there isn't enough evidence to prove that augmented-reality headsets will be the next must-have product.

However, he believes Apple's mixed-reality headset is "likely the last hope for convincing investors that the AR/MR headset device could have a chance to be the next star product in consumer electronics."

As Kuo points out, production and sales of virtual reality headsets are down across the market. For example, Sony had cut its 2023 production plan for its PS VR2 headset by 20%, and Meta's Quest Pro has only shipped 300,000 units.

China's largest AR/VR headset brand, Pico, missed its shipment goals by more than 40% in 2022.

Apple is rumored to announce its long-rumored mixed-reality headset later this year. While many believe that the device will premiere at WWDC 2023, Kuo has said he suspects it will release in the third quarter of the year.

While Tim Cook may be on board with an Apple AR headset, some Apple employees are concerned that Apple's foray into virtual- and augmented-reality could be an expensive flop.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,856member
    Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that that to date, investors have overestimated customers' actual desire and demand for mixed and virtual reality headsets
    True that.

    True that.

    However I feel that what they need isn’t a slick new device from Apple, they need a reason to have one. Gaming? Not really, while there’s some hard core gamers, casual games are a much bigger slice of the market and they don’t need one. Business? Not really, there are a FEW specialized fields that might benefit, the adoption is going to be slow, and most businesses have no use for them. Movies? Not hardly, even watching at home people like to socialize, not be walled off in their own little private theatre. 

    It’s really cool tech, but nobody has made a case for why every person should have one. Or even every household, or the vast majority of people. I’ve played with VR, and AR systems. They are cool as heck, but cool is not a use case. Cool is not a need.

    9secondkox2baconstangradarthekath2pdewmebala1234beowulfschmidtlkruppwatto_cobrachunkpylon
  • Reply 2 of 29
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,884member
    The focus here is incorrect. Nothing can really take off until the infraestructure is in place. That won't happen until 5.5G although the road to that has already begun with FTTR. 

    Once in place, widespread adoption will be possible as content becomes available.

    There is no point bringing a content dependent device to market if the content is not there. That will change over time.

    It is exactly the same as what happened with the internet. 
  • Reply 3 of 29
    twolf2919twolf2919 Posts: 125member
    DAalseth said:
    Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that that to date, investors have overestimated customers' actual desire and demand for mixed and virtual reality headsets
    True that.

    True that.

    However I feel that what they need isn’t a slick new device from Apple, they need a reason to have one. Gaming? Not really, while there’s some hard core gamers, casual games are a much bigger slice of the market and they don’t need one. Business? Not really, there are a FEW specialized fields that might benefit, the adoption is going to be slow, and most businesses have no use for them. Movies? Not hardly, even watching at home people like to socialize, not be walled off in their own little private theatre. 

    It’s really cool tech, but nobody has made a case for why every person should have one. Or even every household, or the vast majority of people. I’ve played with VR, and AR systems. They are cool as heck, but cool is not a use case. Cool is not a need.

    I think it's important to separate AR and VR.    You're right that there are really no 'killer apps' for VR that millions of customers would flock to.  But I don't understand why you glom AR into the same bucket.  There are literally millions of potential use cases for AR in everyday life.  Take me, for example: I have two CS degrees and consider myself pretty smart - but I can't remember peoples' names for the life of me.  Other than relatives and friends I regularly see, I draw a blank with names whenever I meet an acquaintance.  It often leads to awkward moments.  It would be a pretty trivial application of AR to show a name label above the heads of the people I meet.  Even mundane existing functions that currently exist on smartphones would become better.  E.g. notifications showing up in front of you so there's no need to look down at your smartwatch or pull your phone out of the pocket.  My iPhone has been able to give me walking directions forever.  But who wants to hold a phone in front of them while walking?  Staring at my watch for directions is only slightly better.  Walking directions that simply show you an arrow to the left/right in your field of vision whenever you need to make a turn would make walking navigation completely painless.

    I don't know what Apple's plans are for AR glasses.  Whatever might show up this year will not be AR glasses, that's for sure.  And if the rumors of why AR glasses keep getting delayed are to be believed - that Apple can't yet fit the needed processing power into regular size glasses - then I think Apple is taking the wrong approach.  If, instead of insisting AR glasses should be standalone devices, they'd make it a partner device to the iPhone, then the AR glasses would not have to carry the heavy processing burden it otherwise has to!  It would definitely be possible with today's technology to have regular sized AR glasses if those glasses only projected images provided by the phone and sent data captured from its sensors/cameras to the phone for processing.  Any other approach is simply not feasible with current battery tech.
    muthuk_vanalingamradarthekatwatto_cobrabyronl
  • Reply 4 of 29
    williamhwilliamh Posts: 1,036member
    Some of the rumors cited patents for vision correction as a capability.  I expect that isn't part of the 1st gen device, but when it arrives and I get vision correction along with AR, that will be killer. A good pair of glasses with all the features I need costs over $300 with insurance.  I would take the cost of my existing glasses into account when considering the AR glasses.

    You may be wondering:  I'm not a great candidate for laser correction.  If I got laser correction, I would still need glasses.
    radarthekatwatto_cobrabyronl
  • Reply 5 of 29
    Sorry but Ming is way off base here. Of course, the appetite for VR/AR headsets is low. All the current ones suck in their own way. It would be like saying there's no market for the iPod because the Zune is so terrible. Or there's no market for the iPhone because Blackberry is so bad. 

    I would say Apple's headset is the first hope for the AR/VR market, not the last.
    radarthekatAlex_Vwatto_cobrajas99byronl
  • Reply 6 of 29
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 2,902member
    But do we need that market to succeed? That's the question.
    radarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 29
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 2,902member
    VR has been a niche ever since the Virtual Boy. It's just not that big a deal.  AR is another thing and is just as well done on our phone, etc. The only better option would be glasses and people aren't really into being surveilled so easily. 
    edited April 2023
  • Reply 8 of 29
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,856member
    twolf2919 said:
    DAalseth said:
    Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that that to date, investors have overestimated customers' actual desire and demand for mixed and virtual reality headsets
    True that.

    True that.

    However I feel that what they need isn’t a slick new device from Apple, they need a reason to have one. Gaming? Not really, while there’s some hard core gamers, casual games are a much bigger slice of the market and they don’t need one. Business? Not really, there are a FEW specialized fields that might benefit, the adoption is going to be slow, and most businesses have no use for them. Movies? Not hardly, even watching at home people like to socialize, not be walled off in their own little private theatre. 

    It’s really cool tech, but nobody has made a case for why every person should have one. Or even every household, or the vast majority of people. I’ve played with VR, and AR systems. They are cool as heck, but cool is not a use case. Cool is not a need.

    I think it's important to separate AR and VR.    You're right that there are really no 'killer apps' for VR that millions of customers would flock to.  But I don't understand why you glom AR into the same bucket.  There are literally millions of potential use cases for AR in everyday life.  Take me, for example: I have two CS degrees and consider myself pretty smart - but I can't remember peoples' names for the life of me.  Other than relatives and friends I regularly see, I draw a blank with names whenever I meet an acquaintance.  It often leads to awkward moments.  It would be a pretty trivial application of AR to show a name label above the heads of the people I meet.  Even mundane existing functions that currently exist on smartphones would become better.  E.g. notifications showing up in front of you so there's no need to look down at your smartwatch or pull your phone out of the pocket.  My iPhone has been able to give me walking directions forever.  But who wants to hold a phone in front of them while walking?  Staring at my watch for directions is only slightly better.  Walking directions that simply show you an arrow to the left/right in your field of vision whenever you need to make a turn would make walking navigation completely painless.

    I don't know what Apple's plans are for AR glasses.  Whatever might show up this year will not be AR glasses, that's for sure.  And if the rumors of why AR glasses keep getting delayed are to be believed - that Apple can't yet fit the needed processing power into regular size glasses - then I think Apple is taking the wrong approach.  If, instead of insisting AR glasses should be standalone devices, they'd make it a partner device to the iPhone, then the AR glasses would not have to carry the heavy processing burden it otherwise has to!  It would definitely be possible with today's technology to have regular sized AR glasses if those glasses only projected images provided by the phone and sent data captured from its sensors/cameras to the phone for processing.  Any other approach is simply not feasible with current battery tech.
    Oh I know what you’re saying. I’m a bit Autistic and have always had face blindness. The idea of having it tag people and tell me their name sounds great. I just really doubt that many will actually buy one for that. Also I suspect it will quickly be viewed as creepy by others. I know how people react when I use my hearing protectors in noisy places, or wear my sunglasses in bright indoor places. I get a lot of pushback with aids like that. Walking directions would once again be helpful, but I don’t know how many people would want to get them for that. 

    Partnering with the iPhone would be logical. They did that when the iPhone itself came out, you had to pair it with a Mac to update, or make changes. Only later did it become stand alone. Then the Apple Watch still has to be paired with an iPhone. Eventually it will be freestanding. Makes sense to start these using an nearby iPhone for the heavy lifting and communication, then in a few years have it on its own.

    I though still wonder if it would last that long. I go back to Kuo’s comment and just don’t see that there is that big a market for these things. But then there’s a lot of gadgets I don’t see much point in, so I may not be the target audience.
    williamhwatto_cobrabyronl
  • Reply 9 of 29
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,681member
    VR has been a niche ever since the Virtual Boy. It's just not that big a deal.  AR is another thing and is just as well done on our phone, etc. The only better option would be glasses and people aren't really into being surveilled so easily. 

    In this day and age people are constantly being surveilled by mobile phones, security cameras, doorbells, dash cams, go pros, drones, etc.

    If anyone would/could create a pair of A/R glasses that actually respected privacy, it would be Apple. Hell, even their "mapping" cars blanked out peoples faces from the start.
    9secondkox2watto_cobrabyronl
  • Reply 10 of 29
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 3,097member
    I guess I'm simply going to need to see what (if?) Apple offers. I had no idea I "needed" an iPhone until they showed me one. Same with the iPad; Apple Watch; iMac(s); ATV; AirTags. Yes, I've passed on several iPod iterations and AirPods, and I'm not a huge fan of Apple Music. I don't buy games, but maybe (maybe) there is something here I might find useful. I have a hard time imagining a ubiquitous VR heads up display that one fiddles with in everyday use. But as a commenter points out, watch people walk around staring into a phone, or sitting at a restaurant with a group...all looking at their damn phones while stuffing food into their faces. 

    Fairly, my biggest hope for these glasses is that they make a good accessory for my favorite Apple product: AAPL stock. 
    radarthekatbala1234watto_cobrabadmonkbyronl
  • Reply 11 of 29
    Like Luke Skywalker?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 29
    BennnBennn Posts: 1member
    AR could be cool but guess hardware technology is not there yet. I think the headset should at least be comparable to the size of a normal glasses in order to encourage people to use it daily. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 29
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,875moderator
    The fact that Apple has enough times been the company to define markets that others have previously dabbled in (smartphones, tablets, watches, wireless earbuds, etc), combined with Apple’s secrecy prior to presenting its product in a category, kinda throws an Osborne-Effect cloud over its competition; in this case over Meta. And that makes me smile.  

    As to AR, which I agree with otters here is a more interesting direction, I find myself remembering the AR envisioned by Frank Herbert.  

    From Google:
    “More than simply calculators, Mentats possess exceptional cognitive abilities of memory and perception that enable them to sift large volumes of data and devise concise analyses.”

    Seems to me some of the abilities of Mentats as constantly and instantly available advisors could be accomplished today, with an iPhone in your pocket and an AirPod in one ear, or perhaps an even less intrusive version of an AirPod.  

    A bit of permission-based broadcasting of information from my iPhone to nearby iPhones could inform those around me, who may know me, of my nearby presence.  If you know me but might not recognize my face, your iPhone could whisper in your ear that I’m nearby, just in case I might come into your presence; you’d then have my name preloaded into your mind. 

    Similar little notices could be delivered, based upon a bit of machine learning, so as not to overload me with potentially irrelevant notifications, about dining options nearby, for example, if it’s near a mealtime.  I could imagine all sorts of helpful notices delivered via earpiece that wouldn’t even require a camera mounted on my person.  

    And it should be able to go the other direction.  Recognizing my voice, I shouldn’t have to say ‘Hey Siri’ prior to asking a question or issuing a command.  A bit of AI should allow my digital mentat to recognize by my somewhat lowered tone and maybe the fact I’ve lowered my head slightly that I’m speaking to it when I say, “call me a taxi and let my wife know I should be home in 20 minutes” as I’m leaving a business meeting.  

    Anything that you could say, and any notifications you could expect to receive, from a human assistant accompanying you literally everywhere you go (which would be a bit intrusive with a human assistant) should be doable these days with a digital assistant.  Whether a pair of smart glasses would enhance that experience and capability is the question I have. 
    edited April 2023 watto_cobrabyronl
  • Reply 14 of 29
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,387member
    twolf2919 said:
    DAalseth said:
    Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that that to date, investors have overestimated customers' actual desire and demand for mixed and virtual reality headsets
    True that.

    True that.

    However I feel that what they need isn’t a slick new device from Apple, they need a reason to have one. Gaming? Not really, while there’s some hard core gamers, casual games are a much bigger slice of the market and they don’t need one. Business? Not really, there are a FEW specialized fields that might benefit, the adoption is going to be slow, and most businesses have no use for them. Movies? Not hardly, even watching at home people like to socialize, not be walled off in their own little private theatre. 

    It’s really cool tech, but nobody has made a case for why every person should have one. Or even every household, or the vast majority of people. I’ve played with VR, and AR systems. They are cool as heck, but cool is not a use case. Cool is not a need.

    I think it's important to separate AR and VR.    You're right that there are really no 'killer apps' for VR that millions of customers would flock to.  But I don't understand why you glom AR into the same bucket.  There are literally millions of potential use cases for AR in everyday life.  Take me, for example: I have two CS degrees and consider myself pretty smart - but I can't remember peoples' names for the life of me.  Other than relatives and friends I regularly see, I draw a blank with names whenever I meet an acquaintance.  It often leads to awkward moments.  It would be a pretty trivial application of AR to show a name label above the heads of the people I meet.  
    That was one of the promoted features for the old Google Glass. Privacy advocates complained about the possible implications of widespread facial recognition and it didn't take long for "recognizing people" to be a prohibited use of the device.
    muthuk_vanalingamlkruppbyronl
  • Reply 15 of 29
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,534member
    This is a tough one. Apple has been very successful in stepping in where others have underserved or failed. Bot in those cases the underlying need was still quite clear. 

    For example, there were a plethora of MP3 music players available long before the iPod showed up. But no single player provided all the necessary pieces in such a compelling and easy to consume manner. Likewise, there were plenty of smart-ish cellphones with the ability to deliver phone, messaging, a subset of web functionality, entertainment, and a lot of the same features the iPhone did, but none of them were nearly as compelling and easy to use as the iPhone. 

    Apple jumped in well after the needs and demand had been established. The problems existed and Apple came up with amazing solutions. 

    With the AR/VR headset I for one have a hard time identifying the needs and demands that Apple is going to do much better. This is a case where Apple has to create the need and demand part of the equation too, which makes it a whole different story. Most of the use cases I hear people describe around the Apple headset are trying to convince us that there is a problem that fits the solution we have already arrived at. Solution in search of a problem. 

    It’s not impossible to go from solution to problem. Lasers were developed long before the multiplicity of problems they could solve using lasers became apparent. But this approach is one that takes much longer ti develop. Companies like Apple want success quickly and investors aren’t going to sit around to wait for science projects to turn into cash cows. 

    We will see, but it’s somewhat difficult today to see where this will go tomorrow or, hopefully not, someday, because someday is too long to wait. 
    edited April 2023 watto_cobrabyronl
  • Reply 16 of 29
    I always thought the killer feature would be video calls. If it somehow can track face and gestures and make you see who you are calling would be a game changer for telephones. Video calls are always like looking into a tv. If you could have a mixed reality version of who your taking to it would be fantastic. I bet this already exist. But Apple would probably make it easier to use. Other than that I was very impressed during Covid when my friend went to parties overseas with VR, although the technology was far from well polished. 
    Alex_Vwatto_cobrabyronl
  • Reply 17 of 29
    palegolaspalegolas Posts: 1,361member
    Knowing the demand etc. is all very business oriented. And of course it's important in order to make a successful launch. However I think the much bigger elephant in the room question is whether there's actually a healthy future for AR/VR at all? Or is there only a dystopian future when a huge portion of people eventually much rather would like to stay in VR and live in the matrix than to take it off, and that's the world we'll be living in. Whether Apple wants it or not, I think they're going to make a compelling presentation, which unfortunately will lead to the latter.
  • Reply 18 of 29
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,884member
    dewme said:
    This is a tough one. Apple has been very successful in stepping in where others have underserved or failed. Bot in those cases the underlying need was still quite clear. 

    For example, there were a plethora of MP3 music players available long before the iPod showed up. But no single player provided all the necessary pieces in such a compelling and easy to consume manner. Likewise, there were plenty of smart-ish cellphones with the ability to deliver phone, messaging, a subset of web functionality, entertainment, and a lot of the same features the iPhone did, but none of them were nearly as compelling and easy to use as the iPhone. 

    Apple jumped in well after the needs and demand had been established. The problems existed and Apple came up with amazing solutions. 

    With the AR/VR headset I for one have a hard time identifying the needs and demands that Apple is going to do much better. This is a case where Apple has to create the need and demand part of the equation too, which makes it a whole different story. Most of the use cases I hear people describe around the Apple headset are trying to convince us that there is a problem that fits the solution we have already arrived at. Solution in search of a problem. 

    It’s not impossible to go from solution to problem. Lasers were developed long before the multiplicity of problems they could solve using lasers became apparent. But this approach is one that takes much longer ti develop. Companies like Apple want success quickly and investors aren’t going to sit around to wait for science projects to turn into cash cows. 

    We will see, but it’s somewhat difficult today to see where this will go tomorrow or, hopefully not, someday, because someday is too long to wait. 
    It's definitely not a solution looking for its problem. 

    We know that because both AR and VR are already being put to good use. 

    The question is not so much 'what can it do for me? ' but 'at what cost?', both in terms of economic cost and practicality.

    AR especially is data driven and content must be freely available to make it attractive.

    If I'm running a museum, hospital, zoo, public transport system or whatever, I would have to package up that content and make it available. I won't want to support different platforms. It will have to be based on a standard. From a user perspective I'd be looking to see content universally available, not walled off.

    VR on the other hand is perfectly feasible within a closed system but having walls within a device probably isn't very user friendly.

    In both cases, data transport infrastructure is key and, right now, it doesn't exist in quantity or capacity for widespread use. With FTTR it is very doable in domestic settings but general outside use is another story.

    When the two technologies are mixed together in an XR setting, things like being able to view your phone screen through your glasses take on a whole new dimension. 

    I happen to live in a place with 340 days of sun on average per year. Viewing even the best phone screens in full sun is a royal pain. Being able to read my screen through a HUD style experience would be a godsend. Eye tracking technology for hands free use would also be appealing. 

    The use cases are there. There are solutions out there too, but for differing reasons, they can't gain widespread traction. Apple is not immune to those problems either. 

    Obviously, miniaturisation is one of them. Battery life, transport speed, processing speed, optical quality, weight etc all have to be tackled and whoever manages to bring a product to market at an affordable price will be well positioned to take advantage on some levels but at the end of the day (and it was the same for the internet), content creation will be key and that is going to be better if it is 'open'. 

  • Reply 19 of 29
    thedbathedba Posts: 771member
    palegolas said:
    Knowing the demand etc. is all very business oriented. And of course it's important in order to make a successful launch. However I think the much bigger elephant in the room question is whether there's actually a healthy future for AR/VR at all? Or is there only a dystopian future when a huge portion of people eventually much rather would like to stay in VR and live in the matrix than to take it off, and that's the world we'll be living in. Whether Apple wants it or not, I think they're going to make a compelling presentation, which unfortunately will lead to the latter.
    If current society is an indicator of things to come with AR/VR, then I predict we go deeper into the Matrix.
    If distracted driving/cycling/walking was not already a problem, then it will definitely turn into one with one of these on your head.
    Technology often finds complex solutions to problems that already have simple solutions available.
    Example:
    Tech: Let's blindfold people so they can immerse themselves in some better alternate reality.
    Question: What if people need to walk over to somewhere else for hydration or nourishment?
    Tech: Let's add on some miniature camera tech to the blindfold and offer it to the public as an add on for an extra $300. $500 if you want 4K.

    Ordinary person question: How about we don't blindfold people?
    Tech crowd:  Get lost looser/boomer/old fart!!!!
    watto_cobrapalegolas
  • Reply 20 of 29
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,681member
    palegolas said:
    Knowing the demand etc. is all very business oriented. And of course it's important in order to make a successful launch. However I think the much bigger elephant in the room question is whether there's actually a healthy future for AR/VR at all? Or is there only a dystopian future when a huge portion of people eventually much rather would like to stay in VR and live in the matrix than to take it off, and that's the world we'll be living in. Whether Apple wants it or not, I think they're going to make a compelling presentation, which unfortunately will lead to the latter.

    There's probably as much interest in VR at Apple as there is in AAA gaming. We would've seen some hint of them moving in that direction. And short of the demonstration of the iMac Pro being able to produce/develop VR content, there hasn't been anything to lead us to believe that they believe its a technology currently worth investing in.

    AR on the other hand they do have an obvious interest in and have been working on, we've all seen it and a lot of us have probably played with it on our iPads and iPhones and even AirPods. Not mention all the visual AI recognition technologies they've been working on; text, scene, object, face, eye tracking. And sensors LiDAR, infrared, gyroscope, compass, etc. And even display technologies such as micro LED. And extremely powerful mobile chips.

    And to be at all successful, they'll need to offer different lens shapes and prescriptions.


    edited April 2023 watto_cobrapalegolas
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