A low-cost version of the mixed-reality headset is now in development
Apple mixed-reality headset – Apple Inc. is still planning to unveil its first mixed-reality headset this year. But an even more important product has been shelved due to technical challenges. The Lightweight augmented-reality glasses.
AR glasses were to be the follow-up to this year’s headset. Company had originally hoped to release AR glasses that combine both AR and virtual reality. The plan is now on hold.
Instead, Apple will follow with a lower-cost version of the mixed-reality headset. That could happen as early as 2024 or 2025, according to people familiar with the discussions.
Challenges Apple Faces
The shifting plans underscore the challenges Apple faces in its push into a new industry. The company is betting that AR and VR devices could be a major money maker.
The technical challenges of creating consumer-friendly products have plagued the tech world. Apple’s early dream of introducing a lightweight pair of AR glasses now appears several years away if it ever happens.
VR headsets are a market currently dominated by Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc. They provide a more immersive experience. People commonly use them to play video games, communicate in virtual meeting rooms, and watch videos.
AR glasses, in contrast, overlay views and information on real-world views. It is expected that users will be able to wear such glasses while walking on normal days. Earlier attempts at a Google Glass-like concept did not take off.
The high cost may also make the Apple headset a niche product. Initial mixed-reality devices this year will cost around $3,000.
The hefty price tag stems from its advanced and high-resolution display. Use of over 10 cameras and sensors to determine where the user is looking. The Mac-grade M.2 processor and dedicated chip handle both AR and VR visuals.
Apple aims to lower price of mixed-reality headset
Apple is aiming to lower the price of a follow-up mixed-reality device. They’ll use the same chips found in the iPhone. Instead of components found in high-end Mac computers.
The company will compete with Meta’s mixed-reality headset, which costs $1,500. This is a price that Apple is trying to bring closer to its low-end models.
The company is focusing on low-cost headsets instead of AR glasses. It was planned to be released about a year after the initial headset.
At one point, Apple targeted releasing the glasses in 2023, before delaying the launch until 2025. Now, Apple has postponed the rollout indefinitely and scaled back its work on the AR device.
Apple’s mixed-reality headset will use the display to create an immersive VR environment and pass-through cameras to mimic AR effects. It’s much less complicated than the technology needed to make an AR-only device that looks similar to normal glasses.
Details of the battery pack
Finding the right chips, batteries, software, and manufacturing to make a lightweight product that can last all day isn’t just on the horizon.
Apple’s first high-end headset will last about two hours on a single charge. A phone, in contrast, can usually last a full day or longer.
The company decided not to include it in the device itself to reduce the weight and heating risk of the head-wear product.
The battery would connect to the headset on a cable and be placed in the user’s back pocket.
Creating a lightweight device with advanced augmented reality and a built-in battery that can last a whole day just isn’t possible with today’s technology.
Apple has teams researching technology
Much of Apple’s technology development group dedicated to AR and VR is focused on the first two mixed-reality headsets. The company still has some teams exploring technologies that will move into standalone glasses, should they eventually launch.
Some within Apple doubt that the company will ever ship AR Glasses. But it remains a long-term goal. However, both Meta and Alphabet Inc’s Google have announced their own plans for AR glasses. Those products are also in their infancy.