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Apple’s AR/VR headset will reportedly only work when it is connected to an iPhone or Mac 

Apple’s augmented-reality (AR) and virtual-reality (VR) headset will reportedly need to be wirelessly connected to another device for processing power, like a nearby Mac or iPhone.

The much-rumored device’s integrated chip lacks capabilities found in other Apple processors, according to a report in The Information, similar to earlier iterations of the Apple Watch, which required users to keep their iPhones with them.

The helmet-like headset’s AR feature will overlay computer-generated images onto the user’s view of the real world, enhancing games and educational programs.

The VR feature fully immerses the user in a simulated environment. 

According to the new report, the headset will have its own CPU and graphics processor and might have some basic standalone functionality.  

A source familiar with the headset told the site that Apple’s production partner, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, ‘has struggled to produce the chip without defects and has faced low yields during trial production.’

They predict mass production of the device is at least a year away, contradicting the spring 2022 rollout predicted by TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo earlier this summer.

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Apple’s much-ballyhooed AR headset will need to be wirelessly tethered to another device, like an iPhone or a Mac book, to utilize its more advanced functions, according to a new report

According to The Information, Apple completed design work last year on the headset’s system-on-a-chip, ‘which isn’t as powerful as the ones made for iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks.’

‘It lacks the artificial intelligence and machine-learning capabilities, known as Apple’s Neural Engine, which those devices include,’ one source said.

That means a phone, tablet or laptop will do the heavy lifting ‘to display virtual, mixed and augmented reality images.’

Sacrificing processing power will enable it to have longer battery life, the report said, and more energy for ‘compressing and decompressing video,’ and ‘transmitting wireless data between the headset and the host.’

The helmet-like headset will lack 'the artificial intelligence and machine-learning capabilities, known as Apple's Neural Engine' of other Apple devices, similar to early iterations of the Apple Watch

 The helmet-like headset will lack ‘the artificial intelligence and machine-learning capabilities, known as Apple’s Neural Engine’ of other Apple devices, similar to early iterations of the Apple Watch

Another person familiar with the project said the image sensor and display driver for the headset is ‘unusually large’ — close to the size of one of the headset’s lenses — in order to ‘capture high-resolution image data from a user’s surroundings for AR.’

In a note to investors in June, Kuo said that a helmet-like head-mounted display from Apple, offering both virtual and augmented reality, would ship in the second quarter of 2022.

Apple has long been rumored to be developing its own pair of AR glasses. A 2019 patent  (pictured) gives a glimpse into what it may be developing

Apple has long been rumored to be developing its own pair of AR glasses. A 2019 patent  (pictured) gives a glimpse into what it may be developing

‘The device will provide a video see-through AR experience, so the lens is also needed, and Genius is also a key supplier,’ Kuo wrote, according to 9to5Mac.

The new report didn’t offer details on pricing for the headset, though Kuo has previously said it will cost approximately $1,000.

Others have suggested a price closer to Microsoft’s mixed-reality HoloLens 2 headset, which retails for $3,500.

According to The Information’s source, Apple’s less cumbersome AR specs, Apple Glass, could debut in 2023.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AR AND VR?

Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of an environment or situation

  • It immerses the user by making them feel like they are in the simulated reality through images and sounds
  • For example, in VR, you could feel like you’re climbing a mountain while you’re at home

In contrast, augmented reality layers computer-generated images on top of an existing reality

  • AR is developed into apps to bring digital components into the real world
  • For example, in the Pokemon Go app, the characters seem to appear in real world scenarios

In a 2020 video on Front Page Tech, technology analyst Jon Prosser said he had seen two prototypes for Apple Glass at the company’s Cupertino offices—one white and one black.

Both models, described as ‘clean’ and ‘slick’ in appearance, will be 5G-compatible, said Prosser, who is described by Apple Insider as an Apple leaker ‘with sources throughout the company and supply chain.’

The AR eyepiece is reportedly not sunglasses but normal clear glasses that will display an interface on the inside of the lens – not unlike what’s depicted in Apple’s promo image.

Wearers would be able to simply use their gaze to select apps on the AR display, which would be similar to a smartphone homepage, rumors suggest.

Anyone facing an Apple Glass-wearing user will not be able to see the AR display, which will overlay digital images over the user’s real-life surroundings.

According to Prosser, Apple Glass will have its own operating system, ‘Starboard.’

Kuo previously claimed Apple Glass would not make an appearance before 2025, claiming the device has not yet reached the prototype phase.

In April, Apple CEO Tim Cook told Sway podcast host Kara Swisher that augmented reality is ‘critically important’ to the company’s future.  

The company has been working on AR glasses for some time: A 2019 patent application suggests it’s considering a ‘Display Device’ that uses a ‘reflective holographic combiner’ to more seamlessly blend objects rendered in the headset’s display.

That would increase the depth-of-field and reduce the eyestrain and nausea often associated with AR and VR.


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