Apple's rumored AR headset now has a codename and OS

Nov 09, 2017, 00:52
Apple's rumored AR headset now has a codename and OS

While it may be another newly designed iPhone, one report hints at something truly different and possibly revolutionary: an augmented reality headset.

Apple plans to build a standalone AR headset that will be powered by what the company internally calls rOS, or reality OS, according to Bloomberg. Such a system would benefit from being able to implement Apple's ARKit API directly without any significant modifications at all, which should mean a ready pool of software available right of the bat.

Apple has been slowly dipping its toes into AR waters as of late.

AR headsets have been developed by other tech competitors with little success so far, from Google Glass to Microsoft Hololens - which uses both augmented reality and virtual reality - and even Snapchat's Spectacles. With augmented reality, you aren't shut off from the world around you, but virtual elements can be overlaid on the real world.

Apple has always been rumored to be secretly working on a standalone augmented reality device. In June 2016, the company won a patent for a device with a wraparound, translucent display. "AR is going to change everything".

Avid tech geeks will notice Apple's plans sound a lot like what Google's fledgling Daydream VR platform, which consists of the Daydream View VR headset with controller, and a special version of the Google Play Store just for discovering and installing VR apps.

Apple engineers are said to be now prototyping a range of applications for use in AR, reportedly using HTC Vive headsets for testing them. Engineers are also prototyping a number of apps, including mapping, texting, virtual meeting rooms, and 360-degree video. In other words, it would be a standalone device - and wouldn't rely on a smartphone to power it, like most headsets now on the market. Possible ways to control the smart glasses include touch panels, voice commands and head gestures, though final decisions may not be made until one or two years down the line. "We don't give a rats about being first, we want to be best in creating people's experiences". Multiple challenges remain unsolved, including designing a wireless device that can display AR visuals for long enough without depleting the battery. "The technology had matured to a point where they felt they could demonstrate something interesting and useful and present it in a way that is easy for users to do", Nguyen said.