Apple displays the headset on the board at the advanced stage access sign - BNN Bloomberg

Apple displays the headset on the board at the advanced stage access sign – BNN Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) — Apple Inc executives reviewed the upcoming mixed reality headset on the company’s board of directors last week, noting that development of the device is at an advanced stage, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company’s board of directors, made up of eight independent directors and Apple CEO Tim Cook, meets at least four times a year. The people, who asked not to be identified because the meeting was a secret, said a copy of the device was shown to managers during the last gathering.

In recent weeks, Apple has also ramped up development of rOS — short for Realistic Operating System — the software that will run on the headset, according to other people familiar with the work. This progress, along with the presentation on the board, suggests that a product debut could come within the next several months.

The headset, which combines elements of virtual and augmented reality, is Apple’s next big bet. It represents the company’s first major new product category since the Apple Watch in 2015 and will usher the tech giant into an industry that is still nascent. The company is looking for new ways to expand its hardware business, which makes up about 80% of annual sales.

Apple aims to unveil the headset as early as the end of this year or sometime next year, with a consumer release planned for 2023. It has aimed to introduce it at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, but challenges around content and overheating have led to Possible delays, Bloomberg reported. The company declined to comment on plans for the headset.

The iPhone maker’s board was usually the first group outside of regular Apple employees to see future products. Executives showcased the Siri voice assistant on an Apple panel several weeks before it was introduced to the public in 2011, around the time Steve Jobs resigned as CEO.

The headset features advanced processors – on par with those found in Apple’s latest Macs – as well as ultra-high-resolution displays. Although the first model will offer both VR and AR, the company is also working on stand-alone AR glasses, codenamed N421, for release later this decade. Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality overlays digital information and images over the real world.

The current device, codenamed N301, has been in development since around 2015. The company’s vice president, Mike Rockwell, led the project, which is also overseen by Dan Riccio, Apple’s former head of hardware engineering. The company has about 2,000 employees working on the device as part of a team known as the Technology Development Group, or TDG.

Previous leaders in hardware and software engineering for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac work in the group, as well as key hires from NASA and industries that include gaming, graphics, and audio. But the division has struggled with the departure of some key engineers from Meta Platforms Inc. and other companies in recent months.

Bloomberg reports that the team that developed the device operates out of offices in Sunnyvale, California, just a few miles from the company’s headquarters in Cupertino. The device faced many challenges during development, such as finding compelling apps and content. Technical obstacles also included overheating and improving the cameras on the device.

The company is working on AR versions of its core iPhone apps for headphones, as well as new apps that will handle tasks like streaming immersive content and holding virtual meetings.

Bloomberg reported at the time that the Apple headset was originally planned to be unveiled in 2019, with a release in 2020. Apple later aims to announce it in 2021 before releasing it in 2022, only to delay those plans again at a later time. in 2022 or 2023.

During its development, the device faced opposition from former chief designer Jony Ive, who did not believe that Apple should release a headset that would take people out of the real world. Ive, who left Apple in 2019, preferred only the concept of augmented reality glasses, but this product wouldn’t be ready until much later.

I also dismissed the plan for the headset to have a stand-alone mode and option that would make the device more powerful when paired wirelessly to a processing center in the wearer’s home. This plan has been cancelled, and current versions of the device are stand-alone only. They include a stronger contrast to the M1 chip seen in the company’s latest laptops.

In the early stages of mixed reality headset development, Apple engineers tested AR software on the HTC Vive VR headset. The development group also built a compact headset that uses the iPhone’s display, cameras, and chipset, but this device was built only for testing and the company never intended to sell it, Bloomberg reported in 2017.

When the actual headset is finally released, the product will increase competition with other tech giants, including Meta, Sony Group Corp. and Microsoft Corp. Meta and Alphabet Inc.

Meta is launching a mixed reality headset in the coming months that will be similar to Apple’s. The product, codenamed Project Cambria, will be priced above $800, the company said. An Apple device could cost upwards of $2,000, according to people familiar with developing the device. Last year, the company thought it would sell about one unit per day to each Apple retail store.

The AR and VR headset market grew 92% last year to more than 11 million units, according to data from IDC. The Meta Quest 2 headset currently dominates the market, with about 78% of sales in 2021. Apple’s entry into this category, due to its marketing prowess and ecosystem of products, is likely to expand industry sales significantly over time.

© Bloomberg LP 2022

2022-05-19 16:48:34

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