Based on patent filings, Apple has been experimenting with virtual reality and augmented reality technology for more than ten years. However, with the launch of ARKit, Apple’s dabbling is becoming more serious and might lead to an actual dedicated AR/VR product in the not-too-distant future.
Apple is reported to have a hidden research section with hundreds of staff working on augmented reality and virtual reality, as well as studying how these developing technologies may be integrated into future Apple products. VR/AR hiring has increased in recent years, and Apple has bought a number of AR/VR firms as it expands its AR/VR efforts.
We’ve heard a lot of speculations regarding Apple’s impending virtual reality and mixed reality headset, including a probable delay due to its difficult design. The most recent snippet may reveal additional information about how the headset attaches.
The Apple headset will use Wi-Fi 6E to deliver better bandwidth and low latency communication, according to a new investor note from Ming-Chi Kuo (via 9to5Mac), who is widely recognised for his Apple predictions. That means you won’t have to deal with a clumsy connected connection.
Mixed reality is now dependant on wired connections due of the large amount of data that has to be transferred, according to Kuo. Thankfully, Wi-Fi 6E’s increased bandwidth and low latency connections may allow Apple to do away with the wire entirely, allowing it to deliver its VR and AR experiences without the need for a separate device.
Wi-Fi 6E uses a fresh new spectrum and is designed to move massive volumes of data over long distances. While the available bandwidth is same to Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6E has a number of extra benefits.
Instead of using the same crowded spectrum and channels as Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6E uses 100 additional data channels and seven ultra-wide 160 MHz channels. Not only does this mean reduced interference, but it also means Wi-Fi 6E has a decreased latency (as low as 2 milliseconds) and no immersion-killing lag.
Wi-Fi 6E also requires fewer antennae, allowing for smaller and lighter devices.
Unfortunately, Apple may still need to use an external device, since all of the electronics required to run a standalone VR and mixed reality headset would increase the headgear’s weight while decreasing its battery life.Doing it wirelessly means all the hard work can be handled by an iPhone or Mac instead.
Of course, Apple isn’t the only headset manufacturer to include sophisticated wireless features in its devices. The Oculus Quest 2 supports Wi-Fi 6, which allows it to stream at 120Hz instead of the 90Hz allowed by Wi-Fi 5. Both Meta/Facebook and Sony, according to Kuo, are anticipated to follow Apple in releasing more Wi-Fi 6 and 6E-enabled headsets next year.
Bloomberg’s Gurman comments in on Apple’s VR/AR headset.
In the newest issue of his ‘Power On’ newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reaffirmed a number of Apple VR and mixed reality headset speculations. While there isn’t much fresh information, Gurman has a track record of being well-versed in his field.
Gurman claims that the Apple VR and AR headset would be expensive, which is consistent with prior reports, and that its capabilities and pricing will be comparable to whatever device Meta has planned to replace the Oculus Quest 2.
That’s most likely the Oculus Quest Pro, based on earlier remarks from Facebook/Meta staff. If Gurman’s claims are correct, Apple will face stiff competition when its headgear is released.
According to previous rumours, Apple’s mixed reality headset isn’t intended to be a consumer product. Instead, it’s a stepping stone for developers and customers to get ready for Apple’s augmented reality glasses.
The idea is that by offering an AR and VR headset ahead of time, Apple Glasses will have much better app support than it otherwise would have done.
We don’t know when either device will be released, unfortunately. Minch-Chi Kuo now believes that production on Apple’s mixed reality headset would not begin until Q4 2022, a delay he attributes to the device’s sophisticated design and the continuous supply chain troubles that have plagued the tech sector. Meanwhile, Apple Glasses aren’t expected to hit the market until 2023 at the earliest.