It’s no secret Apple is hard at work on augmented and virtual reality devices, with a report from Bloomberg in January claiming Apple is working on an ultra-high-end, pricey headset that could hit stores in 2022. Now, a new report from The Information sheds new light on what to expect from the potential headset, including a rendering — said to be based on “internal Apple images of a late-stage prototype from last year” — of what the device might actually look like.
The Information’s report corroborates several details from Bloomberg’s, including the fabric mesh material that the company is said to be using in order to lighten the weight of the device — and the high price tag. The new report claims the price could reach approximately $3,000, considerably higher than most other standalone VR headsets, like the $299 Oculus Quest 2.
The alleged design also appears to borrow cues from a variety of other Apple devices, including swappable Apple Watch-style headbands and a HomePod-esque mesh fabric.
There are also new details on the actual hardware for the rumored device, which is said to offer both VR and mixed reality applications, thanks to over a dozen cameras (for tracking hand movement) and LIDAR sensors (for mapping rooms, similar to AR effects on the iPad Pro and iPhone 12 Pro). It is also said to feature dual 8K displays with eye-tracking technology that could offer resolution far beyond any current commercial VR headsets on the market today.
Notably, the report claims Apple won’t be running the power-hungry 8K displays at full resolution the entire time. Instead, the device will use the eye-tracking technology to determine where users are looking and then rendering peripheral areas in lower resolution to improve performance (a technique in the VR world known as foveated rendering). The chips, as previously reported by Bloomberg, are expected to be internally developed Apple Silicon hardware that could potentially be more powerful than Apple’s current M1 chip.
Apple is reportedly experimenting with a variety of control methods, including hand-tracking and eye-tracking, a dial mounted on the side of the headset, and a “thimble-like” accessory, although nothing is said to be finalized just yet.
The headset, described mostly as a VR device with more limited AR functions, is still intended to be a key step toward Apple’s ultimate goal: a lightweight AR device indistinguishable from standard eyeglasses. That device is still said to be years away from release.