There have been far too many reports for Apple’s rumoured mixed-reality headset to be just a rumour. Yes, even though we’ve said as much about Apple’s reported motor vehicle (and we’re still right about that, by the way).
The newest rumours claim that Apple’s looking to keep the headset’s weight down to a very manageable level, and it may also perform some very fancy functions using your eyes. Because Apple doesn’t do anything by half-measures.
Both of the most recent rumours come by way of Apple-centric analyst and all-round correct person Ming-Chi Kuo. One, via a research note by Kuo, is that Apple’s working on hybrid ultra-short focal length lenses for the headset, a smaller (but probably more expensive) lens arrangement, with the aim of keeping the headset’s weight under 150 grams. That’s about the weight of a Google Pixel 5 — it’s not much at all.
Typically, VR headsets — even standalone ones — clock in at around 300 grams. Apple’s reported lenses might utilise plastic instead of glass, for weight and cost reasons. Even so, it’s unlikely to be cheap — though cheaper than the company’s rumoured VR hardware.
Away from the lenses, Apple’s supposedly working on detailed eye-tracking tech for its mixed-reality hardware that can detect where a user is looking, whether they’re blinking, and could use a user’s iris as a login mechanism. This suggests some serious processing chops for the hardware, which may or may not be helped along by Apple’s very powerful recent smartphones.
The reports indicate that much of the processing will be done on-device — though, as with all Apple’s products, we’d expect that an iPhone or iPad comes into it somewhere. Apple certainly has the hardware to achieve the performance optimisation that the mixed-reality hardware is said to be able to support. The main question is how it all would work.
And what it might cost. Apple’s first headwear might arrive as soon as 2022, but at a price point that isn’t especially palatable. Around the $1,000 (R15,000) mark, if rumour is to be believed. Which isn’t the cost of a new iPhone, but it’s quite an ask for an all-new technology from the company.