Apple VR: new renderings for the virtual reality headset, and an update on the most likely specs

Apple refines its first VR headset. At the time of the Meta (even Matrix 4 would be “meta” in its scenario it seems), the Cupertino company no doubt wishes to enter this still stammering market through the front door, and if possible with a product and services likely to shake up the industry. As the end of the year is often time for assessments, our colleague Apple Insider made a 3D rendering of the Apple Glass (or Apple VR), all accompanied by a small reminder of the specifications that may have leaked here and there. (we have completed the list of specs in the following lines quite a bit).

Apple’s VR headset will display a sober design (see renderings) and be light, but not as light as early rumors suggested. In the end, the weight of the helmet should be around 300 grams, which is better than competing autonomous helmets (like the Quest) without being a revolution in this respect either. The flexible head support strap could be made from a semi-textile “mesh” material, like the one that surrounds the AirPods Max hoops.

The helmet would be equipped with a dozen sensors of all kinds: cameras on the periphery of the helmet for 3D recognition of the part (AR functions and / or equivalent of the Oculus Guardian), a LiDAR to refine the recognition 3D, and probably also an internal camera for capturing facial movements, the helmet being announced with Face ID compatibility. The possibility of playing avatars-emojis also tips the scales in favor of a system for recognizing the face and its movements. Leye tracking will probably be on the trip but rumors contradict each other on this point.

Inside the helmet, two 4K panels (8K for marketing) with Micro-OLED technology. These screens would be manufactured by Sony, knowing that the Japanese manufacturer would also use them for its second generation PlayStation VR. The micro-OLED VR display guarantees vibrant colors, a very sharp display (true 4K), deep blacks, and above all the total absence of any pixel grid effect. The lenses of the Apple VR will be of the Pancake type, which is more compact than the Fresnel lenses that are found in most VR headsets. Several Apple patents also suggest that it will be possible to adjust the diopter, which would not be surprising since the startup Chinese Arpara is already doing this with immensely more limited means than those of Apple.

Illustration Apple Headset Virtual Augmented Reality

Contrary to the first rumors which announced a VR headset dependent on the iPhone or the Mac for computing power, the Apple VR should finally be completely autonomous, with an Apple Silicon M1 chip for the display and one or more coprocessors for the management of the various sensors. A standalone headset with 2 to 3 tflops of graphics power would be unheard of (and maybe more if Apple boosts the integrated GPU).

The Apple VR would be endowed with quite advanced AR (Passthrough) and VR functions, even if this first version should put a little more emphasis on VR (for the AR it will be necessary to wait for Apple’s AR glasses which should be unveiled. in 2023 or 2024). Apple would mainly offer “media” functions (we think of an integration of iTunes, Apple Music and Apple TV +) of communication (Messages, FaceTime) and games (a VR section in Apple Arcade?). The headset interface would be controlled with the hands, by voice (via Siri VR?) Or… the Apple Watch, simple micro movements of the wrist to navigate the menus. Apple already masters the necessary technology: the accessibility functions included in the Apple Watch undoubtedly foreshadow this type of interaction.

Finally, analysts are a little confused about the price of the Apple VR. The price should however oscillate between 1000 and 3000 dollars, which is still quite a margin. Apple would unveil its VR headset in the last quarter of 2022.

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