UPDATED 13:40 EST / JANUARY 18 2023

EMERGING TECH

Apple delays AR glasses amid technical issues, plans cheaper MR headset

The much-anticipated augmented reality glasses from Apple Inc. appear to be mired in technical issues and are now postponed “indefinitely,” according to a report from Bloomberg, but the company may be focused on building a cheaper mixed reality headset.

Apple had originally intended to release the AR glasses, dubbed Apple Glass, this year before delaying them until 2025, but now the product has been delayed indefinitely.

Augmented reality functions by overlaying visuals directly on a user’s vision through a pair of see-through lenses, or glasses, thus the name Apple Glasses. According to Bloomberg, it was Apple’s vision that these would have been lightweight glasses that people could wear for hours at a time.

The alternative device that Apple has put its focus on is a mixed reality headset that instead fully encapsulates the vision of users and mixes virtual reality and AR together by using cameras on the device to pass through visuals. In MR, users can interact with and manipulate both physical and virtual items and environments by using the cameras on the headset — and avoid running into furniture or stepping on their cat

Apple has repeatedly delayed its potential mixed reality offering, and it’s expected to have a hefty $3,000 price tag. That’s because it’s expected to feature powerful 8K high-resolution displays, more than a dozen cameras, motion tracking, eye tracking and an M2 processor as well as a dedicated processor for handling the sensors.

This headset is expected to come out sometime this year at this price point, but its high price tag may make it a niche or enterprise-only device. And it will be competing with other devices on the market, such as Meta’s mixed reality headset, the Meta Quest Pro, which costs only $1,500.

According to Bloomberg, Apple intends to launch a reduced-cost follow-up to its mixed reality headset by using chips found in iPhones instead of the powerful, and expensive, M2 chip, which is found in higher-end Mac computers. Apple recently released new M2 chips to power its new lineup of MacBook Pro laptops and Mac mini.

The potential of a more affordable AR/MR Apple headset model was first reported by supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo last year. He noted that the devices might have high-end and a more affordable model, which would launch in 2025.

Bloomberg also reported that a majority of Apple’s development team is now dedicated to the first two MR headsets, but the company has not given up the dream of standalone AR glasses and has teams looking into technologies to make that future happen.

Image: Pixabay

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