The Information published a new report detailing the design & features of Apple’s upcoming headset.
Credible reports of an Apple AR/VR headset on the horizon emerged in 2021 from The Information, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, and supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The Information now claims to have interviewed multiple Apple staffers who have worked on the project to confirm previously reported claims and discover new unreported details.
The most unexpected suggestion in the report is that as of last year, the headset used an external tethered battery meant to be worn on your waist. This would avoid the need for a bulky rear battery (eg. Quest Pro and Pico 4) or heavy visor but would likely feel clunkier than existing standalone headsets. Even with this external solution, the battery life is supposedly around 2 hours.
The headset is said to feature dual 4K OLED microdisplays paired with 120 degree field of view lenses. That’s wider than Quest Pro (106 degrees) yet should deliver roughly twice the angular resolution.
And while Quest Pro’s lenses have to be moved manually with your fingers, Apple’s lenses apparently have small motors for fully automatic IPD adjustment, powered by the eye tracking. This functionality is already present in Pico 4 Enterprise and some high end PC-based headsets such as Varjo’s.
The headset apparently features “more than a dozen” cameras and sensors to track your eyes, facial expressions, hands, and even legs. The eye tracking cameras support iris scanning for unlocking the device and making Apple Pay payments. It also reportedly has LiDAR depth sensors to scan your environment for convincing mixed reality.
|Quest Pro||Rumored Apple Reality|
|Field of View||106°||120°|
|Lens Separation||Guided Manual||Automatic|
|Screen Type||QD-LCD w/ Mini-LED||Micro OLED|
|Pixels Per Eye||<2K||~4K|
|Chipset||Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 1 (7nm)||Apple M2 (5nm)|
|Passthrough||Low Resolution||High Resolution|
|Battery Location||Back Padding||Waist Tethered|
|Battery Life||1-3 Hours||2 Hours|
|2D Native Apps||Android (sideloaded)||iOS (via store)|
The headset reportedly includes Apple’s M2 chipset as the primary processor as well as a secondary ISP (image signal processor) specifically for fusing the inputs from the high resolution outwards-facing cameras into a depth-correct real world passthrough view. Quest Pro does this on its chipset, but the passthrough is low resolution, grainy, and washed out.
Like other standalone headsets, Apple’s apparently will have small speakers built into the strap. But it will also support the recently released second generation AirPods Pro via an ultra low latency audio mode enabled by Apple’s H2 chip. Other Bluetooth devices “won’t work well” due to latency and there is no 3.5mm headphone jack.
A completely unique reported feature of Apple’s headset is an external display on the front, passing through the view from the eye tracking cameras so others in the room can see your face. Meta previously showed off this idea as long-term research, calling it “reverse passthrough”.
All of the cutting-edge technology packed into this headset will come at a cost. The Information cites “four people with knowledge of the conversations” as saying Apple has discussed pricing the product around $3000 or higher. Supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed in December it should ship in the second half of this year.