Apple VR headset that cost $3,000 and has 8k displays.
That’s the latest report for what Apple might be releasing in a year or so.
And that sounds really expensive and also apple in VR, what’s going on there?
Let’s break it down.
Because there are reasons why this isn’t so insane
I’m Scott Stein with CNET and I’ve looked at a lot of AR and VR over the years.
I’ve worn high end headsets that are meant for business.
I’ve worn smaller things that fit over your phone.
I’ve worn things like the recent Oculus quest.
I’ve looked at a lot of different types of gear.
Apple has stayed out of the putting things on your head game.
But that may be changing because Apple may be entering with possibly up to two different devices in the next couple of years.
reports on this a gone back several years that there was something in the works.
And then there was talk that Apple will be developing some sort of a pair of smart glasses.
We’ll get to that in a second.
But first Apple might be releasing this Super high-end VR headset.
And this headset according to a recent report from Alex Heath at The Information is going to be really, really expensive.
This is not meant for everyday people.
The headset which looks kinda like a pair of ski goggles with a strap on is going to have extremely high resolution display Some advanced hand tracking and eye tracking and also up to 12 different cameras plus a special type of an input that might fit on your finger.
So this headset is also going to come with an extremely high price tag.
The report is $3,000 but is that any surprise if you know what Apple already charges for a lot of its products.
Going back to last year the air pods Max set a PlayStation 5 and higher price point for headphones.
Those are just headphones.
So something that would have a display something that would be something fully immersive.
Standalone and possibly have a really powerful chip inside.
That’s going to be a lot more expensive.
And the VR landscape right now as far as price goes, is a little bit of a strange spectrum.
So you’ve got the Oculus Quest 2, which I’ve got right here with an extra head strap on, which costs extra.
The Quest 2 is fantastic.
Facebook has made this to be the ultimate VR head And said for home use and it’s really kind of become a gaming console for me in the way I use it.
And it only cost $300 for the one with 64 gigs of storage.
That being said, And that price has not been matched anywhere else in the landscape.
Now is Facebook helping to basically subsidize that get it in at that price?
Possibly because if you look at business type headsets With similar type of tech, standalone ones, those can go up to, you know, seven $800.
What does that mean for when anyone else is going to make one of these things.
The only other consumer headset I can think of right now like a thing you get at home would either be something for your PC, or be the PlayStation VR and the PlayStation VR.
You can get it for as low as $200.
But you do need a gaming console to connect it to and PC stuff.
Well, you could pay anywhere for a couple $100 up to stuff like the valve index, or the HP reverb G2, which I’ve got here, which has a fantastic display really nice audio These climb up into the $600 range, and they have a big cable to connect to your PC and you need a particular type of PC.
Apple’s tech sounds like it’s going to be standalone.
That’s a big difference.
One more thing this headset will have according to the recent report is eye tracking.
Now eye tracking is already in a lot of business focused AR and VR headsets, and eye tracking can look at where you’re scanning your eye.
And what it’s used for on those not only to be able to hone in on something and be able to select it is, to help improve graphics and reduce the battery, and the power drain on the headset that you’re wearing.
It’s called foliated rendering.
And what it does is it just looks at what you’re staring at, makes that super high res And removes resolution from everything around it in a way that your eyes don’t notice.
It’s a really clever trick and we haven’t really seen it used yet.
But if Apple has 8k displays on this headset, they’re not all gonna be activated the maximum resolution at once that would probably wipe out the headsets battery life.
But maybe it’ll be much more targeted.
And other possibility is technology like micro LED one company views accepts using micro LED on its smart classes talk to me about how that not only can become much more power efficient and allows smaller designs, but they can also turn pixels on and off individually kind of like the way the Apple watch.
Only lights up some of its display in order to save battery life.
Let’s talk about the features here.
So 8K displays.
This headset apparently has dual 8K displays.
If you’re a TV person that may sound like an insane Resolution for you, but it’s not really crazy when you think about VR.
Now, right now, any sort of VR headset that I have ever worn, except for one, has pixels that you can basically see.
It’s kind of a screen door effect.
Early VR headsets had it a lot.
Newer ones are getting a lot better.
The Oculus Quest 2 has a resolution That’s crisp enough that you could read websites and watch movies, but it’s not going to look as good as watching a movie on your really nice TV.
that gap still needs to be bridged.
There is one headset that I’ve seen made by a company called Mario that has a VR headset.
That looks fantastic.
The pixel resolution when I tried it a couple of years ago was so refined that it felt almost like looking at regular life and certainly felt like looking at the best monitor I’ve ever seen.
But those headsets come with an extremely high price Varjos next upcoming VR and mixed reality headset is three to $5,000 that seems to line up exactly with what Apple might be heading towards.
Now Varjos headset also has something else that I want to talk about which is LIDAR.
That new upcoming headset they’re working on can scan the world around you that feature Guess what?
It’s already on iPhones and iPads.
Apple’s LIDAR Tech has been out there now since 2020 to explore the idea of scanning the world and incorporating it into AR2.
Blend virtual objects into the real world to even scan the world around you to take measurements, 3D scan things.
There’s a lot of potential and then Apple absolutely wants to go with the AR focus going forward.
Tim Cook keeps talking about it.
But in the middle, there is VR and what’s called mixed reality.
VR headsets already use cameras.
To scan the world around, and basically to understand what the floor is to understand where your hands are for hand tracking, and a couple of other things, LIDAR could go even further and be able to recognize shapes of objects and obstacles.
There aren’t VR headsets really using a tonne of LIDAR, yet.
A our headsets like the Microsoft hololens and Magic leap did explore with meshing your environment as it’s called with that type of Technology.
Apples headset could go even further and if there are 12 cameras on it, which are what the reports say in not only could possibly scan a ton of your environment, but it might do in very high resolution detail.
That is another opportunity.
Because right now headsets like the Oculus quest two, which are much lower cost, can see the outside world but it’s like a grainy black and white.
Companies like Barrio are looking at scanning the world in a much higher way to pass through that reality into your VR so you can see the outside world even while wearing the headset.
If Apple takes that approach Not only could they possibly provide some sorta super high resolution display, but also make it work really well and provide kinda an AR effect for those headsets.
And that’s a stepping stone for where Apple will eventually Truly go, with smaller glasses that maybe you could do some Tony Stark stuff for your face.
By the way, almost every company now feels like they’re working on that idea.
That holy grail in AR, is not achievable yet
Facebook is releasing smart glasses later this year, with Luxottica, those smart glasses while we don’t know details on them Sounds like they’re gonna be much more pared down, may be something similar to what Bose did with its glasses, or with Snapchat did with its spectacle glasses, but certainly not augmented reality.
And any other company working in that AR glasses space, like a company called Musics, which is working on a smaller pair of glasses later this year.
Is also very clear to determine that that technology is not going to be the full 3D mixed reality stuff yet.
So over the time of, you know, years and years, Apple might build towards that idea, starting with the VR thing on your face and then getting smaller.
That’s exactly what Facebook is doing.
Looking at the Oculus quest.
As a bridge to its glasses, and they’re bound to be other players here.
Google already had VR and has explored AR, but it’s kinda pulled back and laid low.
They could emerge as big players in the landscape.
Samsung already was a big collaborator in VR years ago with the Oculus Gear VR, initiative which all those snap on goggles that you had for your Samsung phones that you probably threw away or having a drawer or you never got that stuff could come back and Samsung already makes PC VR headsets.
Microsoft they have that Microsoft HoloLens.
Which is an expensive 30 $500 mixed reality AR headset that floats things out in the real world.
Microsoft had low cost VR headsets for PCs.
And still collaborates with companies like hp.
But they haven’t really created any sort of consumer VR product themselves.
And they’ve stayed out of doing VR so far on the Xbox and Qualcomm which makes chips for all the other VR and AR headsets practically Is also out there pushing, the exact same idea trying to get to a place where low cost or smaller VR headsets could blend with AR and arrive connecting the phones.
Using 5G over the next few years we’d also expect that Apple will put one of its chips in these headsets and the report is that it will be at least as powerful as the M one chip that’s on the recent max.
Now the M one is super powerful and I’ve used it on a MacBook Air.
It just flies and Apple already has a lot of AR processing power.
On its phones and also iPads.
So the capability is definitely there and Apple has been baking in the ability to process graphics and shade things and scan the real world into its chips.
So you can already see those stepping stones starting to be built.
It’s not a stretch to say that that could shift over, especially since Qualcomm is basically doing the same thing.
By adapting its mobile chips into VR and AR headsets to.
How powerful will it be?.
Well, $3,000 you’d expect that this is going to be a pro tool, and maybe something that you use just for creating.
And that’s an opportunity that is intriguing because it When you look at the way that people are making things like the Mandalorian, or designing stuff, there’s a lot of 3D objects.
There’s a lot of people using VR already professionally and Apple could try to make an appeal to that space.
If you have a fancy Mac Pro, or one of these m one equip devices.
How expensive will that total package be and how realistic I don’t really know.
And how would Apple approach gaming.
When they’re not really a huge player in gaming outside of arcade and that’s a pretty specific subscription service, I don’t know.
The other possibility could be fitness cuz the type of stuff I’ve tried with Oculus quest and beat Sabre really shows how you could move and work out in these spaces.
And Apple’s already doing something kinda similar.
With Apple Fitness Plus, although it involves an Apple Watch, and you have to do stuff on your TV, but there could be kind of a connecting point there.
Maybe that’s like years down the road.
So the final thing I wanna get to is how you actually control stuff here in this world.
And when you deal with an Oculus quest or a PC thing, you’ve got these game controller.
These are big and they’re great for games.
They’re not great for say doing work or indicating something or doing art or having to replace a keyboard trackpad, that type of an input.
Apple looks like it might be combining some combination of hand tracking.
And what the report says is a thimble sized device that you might put on your finger.
Nobody’s really cracked the idea of of coming up with a new type of interface in space.
There have been VR styluses that work in the air.
Nothing like a VR version of a mouse, so to speak, and putting on gloves sounds really weird.
But you want something that gets feedback?
And maybe that’s what that thimble thing would be.
But we’ll have to see.
I mean, there are so many other questions, how would the headband fit?
How would the goggles fit and the other people saying that that headset, the the prototype images Or mock up images that we’ve seen look really ugly.
I don’t care if it’s ugly.
I mean, in fact, you might argue that may be the only path if you want to get to comfort all the VR headsets that I’ve tried are super ugly.
I mean, or they’re weird, but I can only tell if they’re good when I actually put them on.
Now Apple kind of has already crossed that road to mean the original Apple AirPods made me look like a joke when I put them on, and yet they became incredibly successful.
Apple didn’t mind that they looked weird.
Same thing can be said for the apple watch Which had a squared look and maybe didn’t look as cool as some of the other more watch like watches that were out there with with round faces and the Apple watch did okay too.
I think function over form is probably a smart move.
And I don’t know I don’t know how it looks like until I put it on.
But it does sound like Apple’s not expecting to sell a ton of these at first according to the report.
So maybe this is a bridge the gap type of thing we’ll have to see.
But things could be heating up in the AR VR space over the next couple years and it looks like Apple will be very interested