Lengthy report details Apple’s long-rumored AR/VR headset, including project delays, prototypes, technical challenges, and more
The Information has published a lengthy report sharing details about Apple’s long-rumored AR/VR headset project, claiming that Apple had functioning prototypes of the wearable in 2016 but has faced several project delays, including prioritization of the iPhone’s development, technical challenges, and more.
According to the insight, “Former Vice President Al Gore, then–Disney CEO Bob Iger and other Apple board members walked from room to room, trying out prototype augmented and virtual reality devices and software. One of the gadgets made a tiny digital rhinoceros appear on a table in the room. The creature then grew into a life-size version of itself,” according to two people familiar with the meeting cited by The Information. “In the same demo, the drab surroundings of the room transformed into a lush forest, showing how users could seamlessly transition from AR, in which they can still view the physical world around them, to the more immersive experience of VR—a combination known as mixed reality.”
The Information publish a sketch of the upcoming headset last year, claiming to have seen secret internal imagery from an unnamed source “with direct knowledge” of the development, reporting the device will offer a “sleek, curved visor attached to the face by a mesh material and swappable headbands.”
The report claims that during testing, Apple has been using Microsoft Windows for demonstrations, noting how one prototype was so heavy it required a “small crane” to hold it “so the Apple board members could wear it without straining their necks.”
The Information’s sources note how the upcoming AR/VR headset will be Apple’s most ambitious project since the launch of the original iPhone.
“Technical challenges have been the biggest factor in the delays, as has been the case in the past for Apple’s most ambitious new products, such as the iPhone. But the Apple smartphone also had a singularly influential figure in Apple co-founder Steve Jobs to midwife it.”
“While Apple’s current CEO, Tim Cook, supports the headset project, he hasn’t been as active in the effort as Jobs was with the iPhone’s development, according to five people familiar with the project. For example, he rarely visits the group at its offices away from the main Apple campus, those people said. The lack of a honcho of Cook’s stature to champion the headset, code-named N301, has made it harder at times for it to compete with other products such as the Mac and iPhone for head count and engineering resources,” the report reads.
Concept creator Ian Zelbo has released visuals showing what Apple’s new headset will probably look like based on earlier leaked information, featuring an Apple Watch-style adjustable headband and AirPods Max reminiscent mesh cushion for comfort around the wearer’s eyes.
Image: Ian Zelbo