Apple is developing a standalone VR headset which will be its first new hardware product category since the Apple Watch introduced in 2015. Rumours point to a rather pricey high-spec headset coming to stores in 2022, and a new report claims to have inside information on a "late-stage prototype from last year".
Tech site The Verge cites a report published by The Information (pay-wall), which builds upon Bloomberg's revelations from about a fortnight ago. Starting with tech specs, I've decided to put the key Apple VR headset features that have been shared by the trio of sources into a simple bullet point list:
Apple VR headset specs
- Screens: twin 8K displays
- Cameras: 12+ cameras for hand tracking, environment positioning, AR/pass-through vision
- Other sensors: eye tracking, LIDAR for accurate positioning
- Processor: Apple Silicon – to power the standalone experience
- On device controls: as well as the eye tracking and hand tracking, there is talk of a thimble-like dial on the side of the HMD
With its 8K screens obviously putting great demands on any GPU, it is thought that the eye tracking abilities of the HMD will be used for 'foveated rendering', where the GPU renders at higher quality in the areas in which you are looking, with lower-res renders at the periphery.
The illustration provided by The Information reminds me of some child's scuba goggles I had when I was about 10, even the colour. This impression of the "late-stage prototype," shows that it is quite compact, considering the tech. Materials are said to borrow cues from other Apple devices – use of a HomePod style fabric, with Watch style swappable headbands, and I am sure the first shipping product will look attractive.
Eventually it is said that Apple would like to be able to market a "lightweight AR device indistinguishable from standard eyeglasses," says The Verge. Such a device is obviously years from release, looking at this prototype.
Last but not least, Apple is claimed to be looking at pricing its first HMD at approx US$3,000. That is 10x more expensive than the Facebook Oculus Quest 2.