Apple’s “headset-like” AR device apparently coming no later than 2019

Apple is thought to work on some kind of an augmented reality headset accessory and now a high-ranking official with one of Apple’s key Taiwanese suppliers claims that the rumored device will be coming no later than the year 2019.

Nikkei Asian Review on Tuesday quoted Quanta Computer vice chairman C.C. Leung as saying that the rumored “headset-like” device will feature a fully transparent lens that allows users to “see through and interact with the environment.”

Leung, of course, did not mention Apple by name beyond acknowledging that his company is working on an advanced augmented reality project for an unknown party.

“We have studied the optical technologies that AR devices have needed since two years ago,” Leung told reporters after an earnings conference. “Currently, we see such a device available in the market no later than the year 2019.”

It’d presumably take advantage of the ARKit framework and specialized hardware to overlay digital information onto the real world. Leung noted that if the mystery device could carry a price tag lower than $1,000, it would likely become a hit in the market.

Qaunta is a major supplier of Apple Watch and MacBook notebooks. The company also manufactures products for Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft, but counts Apple as its No. 1 customer. Catcher Technology, another Apple supplier, recently said it had been contracted to supply parts for an undisclosed wearable device.

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said last week that Apple’s device, internally code-named “T288,” will run a forked iOS version dubbed “rOS” for “reality operating system” and feature its own display and an Apple-designed system-on-a-package silicon.

“Apple hasn’t finalized how users will control the headset and launch apps, but is investigating touch panels, voice-activation via Siri and head gestures,” Gurman reported. “Engineers are prototyping a range of applications, from mapping and texting to more advanced features including virtual meeting rooms and 360-degree video playback.”

It’s unclear if the device will have its own App Store where you could download AR apps specifically tailored for it or if users will manage apps and other features through a companion iPhone app. The development timeline is reportedly “very aggressive”, but could still change.

Gurman stated that the device has been scheduled for a possible launch in 2020.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has expressed a “profound interest” in augmented reality, but cautioned in a recent interview that the technology is not there yet for a satisfactory user experience.

“Today I can tell you that the technology itself doesn’t exist to do that in a quality way,” he said.

“We don’t give a rats about being first, we want to be best in creating people’s experiences. Something that you would see out in the market any time soon would not be something that any of us would be satisfied with.”

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