Apple may release an extremely lightweight mixed reality (MR) headset next year that would combine the best features of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) products.
- Combined AR/VR features.
- Very portable, not truly mobile.
- Way lighter than current VR headsets.
- Much better than existing VR products.
- Might be cheaper than expected.
Target weight: 100-200 grams
The most accurate Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted in a new note to clients, obtained by MacRumors, 9to5Mac and AppleInsider, that a new “helmet type” MR headset with combined AR and VR capabilities is coming as soon as the middle of the next year. Somewhat reliable smartphone leaker Jon Prosser recently went against Kuo on this one, saying the headset would drop between March and June of this year.
According to Kuo, current prototypes weigh between 200 grams and 300 grams.
The shipping version is said to be only 100-200 grams provided “Apple can successfully solve the significant technical problems.” In line with a previous rumor, the product should utilize Sony’s micro OLED displays providing a “see-through AR experience” as well as VR.
Not only should the device be more lightweight than the current crop of similar products but also independent of an iPhone because it would sport “independent computing power and storage.” As a result, the rumored accessory would not need a nearby iPhone for processing.
The Information recent alleged that such a headset would cost about $3,000 because it’d file as a development device ahead of a more mainstream product: AR glasses. Kup doesn’t think that will be the case—headset pricing is likely to be “similar to that of a high-end iPhone.”
As for product design, it’s allegedly complex and “above that of the iPhone.”
What about content?
Video could be one of the killer apps, Kuo speculates.
Although Apple has been focusing on AR, we think the hardware specifications of this product can provide an immersive experience that is significantly better than existing VR products. We believe that Apple may highly integrate this helmet with video-related applications (like Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, etc.) as one of the key selling points.
The content side of the story would appear to corroborate an August 2020 report by Bloomberg, saying the Apple TV+ video service would incorporate (AR)-based bonus content ahead of the planned headset release sometime n 2022.
For what it’s worth, Kuo goes on to say that the unreleased product will be “positioned more like a portable product rather than a mobile product” such as an iPhone.
According to the analyst, the headset will be followed by a more mainstream product—a “glasses type” accessory in 2025. He also called for Apple-branded AR contact lenses between 2030-2040 but cautioned that there’s “no visibility for the launch schedule” yet.
The Information recently reported similar timeframes for Apple’s AR/VR products.
Finally, Kuo concludes his note by predicting that AR and MR will be the “next critical technology that defines the innovative human-machine interface of electronics products.”