Apple Reality Pro

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Apple Reality Pro
Information
VR/AR Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality
Type Head-mounted display
Subtype Integrated HMD
Platform xrOS
Creator Apple
Developer Apple
Operating System xrOS
CPU 5nm SoC
GPU 5nm SoC
Memory 5nm SoC
Display Dual Micro OLED
Resolution 4k per eye
Field of View 120 degrees
IPD Adjustment Automatic
Tracking Hands, Eyes, Face, Legs?
Sensors LiDAR
Power Waist-mounted battery
Battery Life 2 Hours
Apple is working on a headset with virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) capabilities. While the company hasn't confirmed it officially, it has been heavily rumored and seems probable that it will be revealed in 2023 [1] [2]. The mixed reality (MR) headset is expected to be in line with current VR headsets albeit with several cameras and sensors that provide bonus functionality. According to Bloomberg, several names have been suggested for this new headset such as Reality One, Reality Pro, and Reality Processor. These trademarked names might not apply to the final product but they have, nevertheless, been giving way to speculation about different VR and AR device models [3]

One of those other related products could be what has been called the Apple Glass, see-through lenses that will provide a fully AR experience. According to the available information, they would be a lightweight pair of glasses able to project imagery and information onto the real world [2] [3]. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, has mentioned that AR has more potential than VR on the long-term. This product, however, is expected to become reality after Apple’s VR/AR headset since current VR technology is more mature and easier to produce [4]. The name Apple Glass most likely won’t be used for the final product due to its association with Google Glass. A possible release date for this device in 2025 has been rumored [1] [5].

Apparently, the intent of Apple’s headset is for short trips into VR, with users being able to use the headset for communication and viewing content and gaming but not as a constant all-immersive experience [3]. The headset will have as its main feature mixed reality, including several external cameras to provide features like hand-tracking and gesture control. Some reports claim that games are not a priority for Apple’s VR/AR headset [2] [3].

After the release of Apple’s first headset, a cheaper version is expected to be launched, with less features than the premium model. If true, Apple would have two headsets with different price points focused on mixed reality and the Apple lenses for augmented reality. This line of products could be a game-changer for the headset industry, inspiring a new wave of demands and products on the VR and AR space [1] [3].

Release date and price

While, initially, some were expecting the headset’s reveal and release date information during Apple’s 2022 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), such did not occur. Nevertheless, references to a headset on the beta versions of iOS 16 indicate that a release date is not far away [5].

All information available hints that 2023 should be the release year for Apple’s new device, with some suggesting January for the announcement and the product launch during the second quarter of 2023 [3] [5] [6].

Several price points have been proposed, from $2000 to $3000, seemingly indicating that the first-generation model will be a product aimed at industry use [5] [7].

Design and specifications

Figure 1: Apple’s mixed reality headset concept design. Creator: Antonio de Rosa
Figure 2: Side view of Apple’s mixed reality headset (concept design). Creator: Ian Zelbo

Since it is expected that it will be a mixed reality headset, combining VR and AR, the proposed designs are of a full wraparound set using straps that look similar to those on the Apple Watch Sport Band (figures 1 and 2). Also, different weights have been suggested for the headset going from as little as 150 grams (0.33 pounds) to between 300 and 400 grams (0.66 - 0.88 pounds). It has also been rumored that it will be a wireless device, giving the user complete freedom to move around without being disturbed by cables [1] [2] [3] [5].

To achieve the augmented reality side of the dual nature headset, cameras will be needed to capture the outside world and feed it back to the user. Reports have given a number of up to 12 cameras and lidar sensors mounted on the device. However, this number as changed to 14 and then 15 cameras as new reports and information have been made available [1] [5]. According to Digital Trends, from the 15 cameras, 8 would be for AR, “one for environmental detection, and six for ‘innovative biometrics' [5].”

Resolution

Journalistic reports about the Apple headset have suggested two 8K displays, an unprecedented level of detail when compared to the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite that has a resolution per eye of 1440 x 1700 [3][5]. This, however, has been contradicted by others that have provided a resolution for the device of 4000 x 4000 for the front-facing lenses [3] [5]. Regarding pixels-per-inch, it seems that there was an increase from the initial report of 2,800 ppi to 3,500 ppi. This came about by Apple asking Samsung Display and LG Display to produce displays with the increased ppi. However, these updated displays are not expected to be used in the first-generation headset [8] [9].

Further information reveals that the headset’s front panels will be micro-LED displays with a third panel for peripheral vision being an AMOLED display running at a lower resolution, allowing for a foveated display [2] [3] [5].

Prescription lenses

A feature that has been speculated about is to allow users to order custom prescription lenses that could be inserted into the headset. This could be related to a trademarked name by Apple, “Optica” [4] [5].

Refresh rate and chipset

There hasn’t been a lot of information about the refresh rate that will be used. Normally, VR headsets aim for 90 Hz or higher in order to minimize lag and motion sickness [5].

Regarding the chip that powers the headset, it is expected to be a custom-designed Apple Silicon chip and one of the most advanced and powerful processors. This would be the new M2 chip with 16 GB of RAM. The power would be balanced by the efficiency of Apple’s ARM-based chip architecture which is ideal for compact devices, reducing or nullifying the need for cooling [3] [5].

Digital Trends and The Information have both reported an alternative to the single M2 chip: two chips on the headset with one offering the main computing power and the other managing the device’s sensors [3] [6].

As a power source, Apple’s 96 W adapters will probably be used [2] [3] [5].

Wi-Fi

The VR/AR headset is expected to have Wi-Fi 6E instead of the Wi-Fi 6 of the iPhone 13. This would allow for lower latency and transferring large amounts of data. It could also mean that the processing hard-work could be done with a connection to a separate device (Mac or iPhone) without the need for a physical cable [3] [5].

Hand-tracking

Figure 3. Apple VR patent showing hand-tracking with two Apple watches. Source: Digital Trends.

Different approaches to the hand-tracking system of the headset have been rumored based on patents submitted by Apple. One of such could be a “clothespin-like finger clip” that would serve as the input device. Based on patents, finger-mounted devices could detect movement and provide haptic feedback. Another possibility would be using a pair of Apple Watches, allowing the user to interact with the virtual world using gesture controls (figure 3). However, this tracking system is not likely to be implemented first since Apple watches have a high cost [5]. Other patents mention the use of smart rings to track the movements of the fingers and hands and the ability to detect objects that the user is holding, like an Apple Pencil [3].

Operating system

The operating system for the device seems to be internally called by Apple as xrOS (extended reality OS). While not much information has been released, rumours suggest that it will include new versions of core apps from the company.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Rice-Jones, J (2022). Apple VR headset: release date, features, and price. KnowTechiehttps://knowtechie.com/apple-vr-headset-release-date-features-and-price/
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 MacRumours Staff (2022). Apple Glasses. MacRumors. https://www.macrumors.com/roundup/apple-glasses/
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 Pritchard, T (2022). Apple VR/AR headset - everything we know so far. Tom's Guidehttps://www.tomsguide.com/news/apple-vr-and-mixed-reality-headset-release-date-price-specs-and-leaks
  4. 4.0 4.1 Apple Insider. Apple VR. Apple Insiderhttps://appleinsider.com/inside/apple-vr
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 Blake, A (2022). Apple mixed-reality headset: Everything we know about Apple's VR headset. Digital Trendshttps://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/apple-mixed-reality-headset-rumors-news-price-release-date/
  6. 6.0 6.1 Priday, R (2022). Apple VR/AR headset, 15-inch Macbook Air, HomePod 2 and more could arrive in 2023. Tom's Guidehttps://www.tomsguide.com/news/apple-vrar-headset-15-inch-macbook-air-homepod-2-and-more-could-arrive-in-2023
  7. McMillan, M (2022). Apple AR-VR headset just tipped for January launch - and it could be $2,000. Tom's Guidehttps://www.tomsguide.com/news/apple-arvr-headset-just-tipped-for-january-launch-and-it-could-be-dollar2000
  8. Lee, G (2022). Apple request development of 3500ppi OLEDoS to Samsung and LG. The Elec. https://www.thelec.net/news/articleView.html?idxno=4220
  9. Fathi, S (2022). Apple looking to make its AR/VR headsets more immersive with sharper displays. MacRumourshttps://www.macrumors.com/2022/09/28/apple-ar-vr-headsets-more-immersive/

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