A new report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman includes some interesting claims about the history of Apple’s displays installed on top of development efforts.
Gorman’s report cites “people familiar with the seven-year development process” who said Apple CEO Tim Cook was originally “determined in his preference for augmented reality, preferably in the form of lightweight glasses.” But Apple engineers discovered early on in the project that “it just wasn’t possible to build AR glasses that would be powerful enough to be useful,” and decided they would have to somehow deliver iPhone performance with one-tenth the force pull, among other challenges.
Despite this realization, the report claims that Apple’s AR/VR team, called the Technology Development Group (TDG), “continued to describe its work as laying the groundwork for AR glasses” to secure resources, 90% of which was in fact dedicated to development. The Apple headset is expected to be unveiled next month.
The report goes on to mention “a person on the project” describing “a running joke was the engineers working on the desperate N421. [AR glasses project] Just to keep Cook happy.” And despite “little or no progress” in developing augmented reality glasses by the end of 2019, TDG team lead Mike Rockwell reportedly told hundreds of employees that Apple “could offer the glasses one year after the first goes on sale.” Headphone glasses. “
In January, Gurman reported that Apple had indefinitely postponed AR glasses, shifting its full focus to the upcoming headset and developing a more affordable model in the future. Wayne Ma reports that this cheaper headset may be priced “close to the iPhone.”
It appears that shipping augmented reality glasses remains a long-term, long-term goal for Apple, with the potential to eventually replace the iPhone one day.
However, the inability to offer sci-fi augmented reality glasses is not an issue unique to Apple. The technology simply does not exist today at any cost.
Some startups like Nreal have already released augmented reality glasses, yes. But these early rudimentary devices are restricted to a compatible phone and have a very limited understanding of their environment, narrow field of view, and low brightness. They’re not able to offer the more attractive use cases that augmented reality glasses ultimately promise. Meanwhile, Microsoft and Magic Leap have opted for a larger eyeglasses form factor aimed at businesses and government agencies, hoping to eventually miniaturize the technology for consumers.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta reportedly originally planned to ship real augmented reality glasses in 2024, but it looks like this device will now just be a developer’s kit for a more advanced consumer model planned for 2027. As of late last year, more than 50% of spending at the Meta goes Reality Labs division into the research and development of augmented reality glasses.
However, the permanent delay of glasses isn’t the death knell for augmented reality, at least for indoor use. Long before glasses become possible, it’s likely that headsets like Apple will provide a high-quality AR experience via high-resolution color transit cameras instead. Using a lens-width approach for VR headsets provides a much wider field of view than transparent optics at a lower cost, without the harsh artifacts and other trade-offs that the glasses form factor requires.
Late last month, Apple announced that its annual WWDC conference would take place June 5-9, with a “special in-person experience at Apple Park on June 5.” Gurman first wrote in February that Apple plans to unveil the headset at WWDC23 and has held off. With this claim in the latest reports, supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo seems to agree, writing in a note earlier this week that it’s very likely that the headset will be unveiled at WWDC.
#Apple #engineers #building #headset #promising #eyeglasses