That Apple is working on an Augmented Reality headset is by now an open secret, after the device was all but confirmed by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman.
Today more detail has leaked regarding the device, with Gurman claiming the device will not in fact be dependent on an iPhone as shown by this Apple patent below.
While Gurman claims such a device does actually exist, with the HTC Vive they apparently only exist for testing purposes, as Apple has a stand-alone device in mind running rOS, which stands for Reality OS, and similar to watchOS and tvOS it will be running a variant of iOS.
The headset is said to be code-named “T288”, with its development scattered across 1 Infinite Loop.
According to Gurman Apple is being “very aggressive” with its timeline and expect the headset to ship by 2020.
The device may have a gaming focus, with Geoff Stahl, software manager for games and graphics at Apple, being a key part of the development team.
More detail includes that Apple is still considering how to control the device, using either head gestures and voice or a touch panel.
Interestingly a stand-alone device would raise the price of the headset, which would limit the market somewhat and increase the barrier for entry. Apple’s use of full-faced devices such as the HTC Vive suggests that instead of trying to tackle the difficult and expensive problem of lightfield technology Apple may simply be going for a simpler passthrough system where the only challenge would be to improve latency to an acceptable level. 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.
In an interview with The Independent Apple CEO Tim Cook said Augmented Reality would be “huge” and “for everyone.”