Apple plans to have augmented-reality headsets by 2020

Posted November 10, 2017

For the most part, analysts have been expecting Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) to launch a set of augmented reality (AR) glasses sometime between 2019 and 2020.

Apple's hope is to squeeze its graphics processors, AI chip and CPU into a smaller, one-size-fits-all package, akin to what it has done for the Apple Watch, the Bloomberg article stated. Apparently Apple's engineers don't even have a prototype good enough to use in their own testing, so for now, they're working with HTC Vives to tweak the rOS - or "reality operating system".

Apple began developing its own augmented reality platform a couple of years ago and that ended up being ARKit, which now live natively inside devices running iOS 11. Right now, the plan is to only use that device internally, but who knows where the tech landscape will be in two years.

Although it declined to comment on the story, Apple has made no secret of its desire to harness augmented reality technology, with company CEO Tim Cook publicly praising the nascent tech. Aetna workers are co-located at Apple's offices in Cupertino, he said, as the company looks to have a variety of apps ready in time for the January 1 start of the Apple Watch pilot program.

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It is not yet known how users will control or interact with the AR projections, but Apple is reportedly experimenting with head gestures, Gear VR-style touch panel input, and Siri voice commands, among others. And now we have a load of new details about the AR device that Apple is reportedly building. The goal is to have a standalone headset ready to go by 2019, with a shipping date expected in 2020.

Apple's AR headset faces a host of challenges, including the development of a custom chip, operating system and display, and dealing with limited battery life.

However, during his interview with The Independent, Cook said he wasn't concerned about "being first".

"Now anything you would see on the market any time soon would not be something any of us would be satisfied with", Cook said. Are any of you particularly excited about augmented reality? "AR is going to change everything". It's unclear if this device will support VR in any way, but the report does state that the company is using the HTC Vive for testing and that a device similar to Oculus and Samsung's Gear VR using iPhone components is also being used (though isn't meant to be sold). ARKit allows developers to create augmented reality apps for iOS devices, and it's already resulted in some pretty interesting stuff.