The wireless AR headset, which will apparently have virtual reality (VR) capabilities as well, is being considered as the company's next possible "breakthrough" product, say reports. The device would have its own display - an 8K display for each eye say some reports - and processing system, and not be powered by a smartphone.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has been enthusiastic about the potential for AR technology.
"We're already seeing things that will transform the way you work, play, connect. and learn," Cook said in a recent interview. "Put simply, we believe AR is going to change the way we use technology forever."
In March, Bloomberg reported that Apple had begun putting together a team to work on AR-related projects a couple of years ago. Reportedly the group currently numbers several hundred engineers from across the company and is working on several hardware and software projects.
The group's first product was ARKit - a development kit that software developers can use to create AR applications for the latest iDevices. Such applications use the devices' screens, cameras, and processors to create virtual 3D interfaces for online shopping, education, and gaming.
In developing the new AR headset, the company is reportedly designing a chip specifically to power it. The chip would be similar in concept to the "system-on-a-package" component in the Apple Watch, says Bloomberg.
In addition, the company is said to also be developing a new operating system specifically for the headset, currently called "rOS," for "reality operating system." It will apparently be based on the company's current iOS, which powers Apple's current iDevices.
As far as a user interface, the company is reportedly exploring touch control, voice-activation via Siri, and head gestures. For testing purposes prior to having a fully operational headset, reports Bloomberg, Apple engineers are using HTC Vive headsets, as well as working on a device similar to an Oculus Gear VR headset that uses an iPhone for the screen, cameras, and chipset.
Once the AR headset is developed, the company is said to be planning to use it initially for in-house testing of AR apps, and to make such apps easier to develop for the iPhone. As part of that effort, the company is planning to release a new version of ARKit as soon as sometime this year.
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