In August, The Burn-In reported Apple reignited its interest in developing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headsets. On Monday, The Information revealed the iPhone maker is well into its next-generation device development process. Indeed, the Big Tech giant is readying both an Oculus-like AR wearable and a pair of smart glasses for release early in the next decade.
Apple’s AR Headset
In October, Apple reportedly gathered its AR headset team for a meeting in the Steve Jobs Theater. Notably, the firm has assigned a team for the project large enough to fill the 1,200 seat venue. During the meeting, Mike Rockwell, Apple’s vice president in charge of the AR initiative, updated his staff on the project’s status.
Rockwell noted the firm’s headset, codenamed N301, features both AR and VR capabilities. The notoriously secretive corporation had attendees apply stickers that blocked their devices’ front and back cameras. However, unidentified staffers told the Information the device looks like a slimmed-down version of Facebook’s Oculus gear.
Right now, the corporation plans on releasing its AR headset in 2022.
Moreover, Apple insiders revealed the N301 has high-resolution cameras mounted on its exterior that allow the wearer to see their surroundings. Furthermore, the device can map the rooms it occupies with a high degree of accuracy. The attending employees also saw its ability to project 3D objects, including a dimensionally appropriate coffee machine.
Currently, the corporation is optimizing the N301’s thermal architecture so users can wear it for long periods comfortably. Similarly, the firm wants its HoloLens competitor to feel light, so it’s working with fabrics and materials that don’t feel weighty.
Apple also wants to team with developers in 2021 to begin making apps and games compatible with its new hardware.
Apple’s Smart Glasses
The Cupertino, California-based company is also working on a smart glasses project called N421. Apple is not as far along in developing that product because of its technical challenges. As opposed to the N301, the firm’s AR eyeglasses are intended to be worn all day and to resemble a regular pair of spectacles.
The corporation’s prototypes have thick frames that conceal their chipsets and power source.
Besides making fashionable smart glasses, Apple is also thinking about the product’s impact on social interactions. For instance, the company is considering having the N421’s lenses darken when the users are engaging with AR objects. That way, other people will know the wearer is both busy and not grasping at thin air for no reason.
Presently, Apple has its AR eyewear on its roadmap for release in 2023. Notably, The Information report indicates the firm is very serious about its smart glasses. The corporation’s senior managers believe future iterations of its enhanced spectacles will supplant the iPhone within ten years.
As it happens, Apple is not the only organization that believes smart eyewear is the future of consumer electronics. Chinese manufacturer Huawei is working with a South Korean fashion company called Gentle Monster to develop AR glasses. Furthermore, in September, Facebook entered an agreement with Ray-Ban to make online-enabled spectacles.