There are leaks and, then, there are deliberate leaks.
While we may never know to which category this one belongs, the fact remains that Apple is developing a whopping 16K headset that will integrate, both, AR and VR technologies, if Shara Tibken’s April 27 report for CNET is anything to go by.
Codenamed T288, the project is still in its nascent stages but reports have it that it could well see a 2020 release; however, there’s always the likelihood of the program getting scrapped midway.
Meanwhile, Apple has declined to comment in this regard.
It doesn’t really come as a surprise, given Apple CEO Tim Cook’s apparent obsession with augmented reality, as has been evident in his uncharacteristic public acknowledgments of the technology’s potential at various forums, even going to the extent of comparing it to the revolutionary, game-changing smartphone concept, with particular reference to the iPhone.
“I regard it as a big idea like the smartphone. The smartphone is for everyone, we don’t have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market: it’s for everyone,” Cook told The Independent’s Steven Musil during a Feb. 12 interview.
“I think AR is that big, it’s huge. I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives. And be entertaining. I view AR like I view the silicon here in my iPhone, it’s not a product per se, it’s a core technology,” he said.
While virtual reality is all about immersing VR-enabled device users into exciting new digital territories, augmented reality, actually, superimposes image and data over real-world situations.
Nintendo’s Pokemon Go is the best AR example that immediately comes to mind, where the game’s characters appear on the smartphone displays of players in real places the player is exploring.
At the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, last year, the iPhone maker introduced its ARKit, a tool that helps developers build augmented reality apps for iPhones and iPads.
Despite its penchant for augmented reality, the Cupertino, California-based company is working to bring together the best of both worlds, augmented as well as virtual, in its 16K headset to create an immersive AR|VR reality experience, never seen before.
If sources are to be believed, Apple’s AR|VR-enabled headsets will include an 8K display for each eye, making it a combined 16K headset – the kind of high resolution that even the most advanced television sets, today, are not equipped with.
And, it would be a standalone product connected to a dedicated box powered by a custom 5-nanometer Apple Processor – more powerful than anything currently known – with high-speed, short-range wireless technology, being referred to as 60GHz WiGig.
Reportedly, the AR|VR headset will feature onboard cameras – unlike the HTC Vive headset which requires installation of dedicated external cameras – to capture images and videos of the surroundings in order to make augmented reality, well, a reality.
While both AR and VR may not have yet found their way into the mainstream, yet, the way and the speed with which progress is being made in these areas, it’s just a matter of time before we see them take the world by storm, just like smartphone did, as Cook said.
CCS Insight – a company that specializes in providing market information, analysis, forecasts and much more – predicts that some 22 million VR and AR headsets and glasses will be purchased by consumers in 2018, which is expected to increase 5 times to 120 million by 2022; by then, the AR|VR market could well be worth an incredible $10 billion, CCS Insight estimates.
Other than the rumored AR|VR headset – which is still some distance from becoming a reality, if, at all, it does become one – there is not much in terms of AR and VR hardware that Apple can show to its credit, whereas its competition has introduced several devices in those categories.
Here’s what’s been happening:
Facebook-owned Oculus partnered with Samsung to build VR headsets for South Korean giant’s smartphones.
Microsoft, meanwhile, has work in progress on its Windows 10 mixed reality goggles and HoloLens augmented reality headset.
Magic Leap is expected to unveil its AR system that promises Star Wars-like holograms overlaid on the wearer’s real-world surroundings.
Google has already released “Cardboard” – its DIY VR kit as well as the Daydream View headsets, it introduced two years ago.