Even though they were a bit late to the show, Apple finally ventured into the Augmented Reality segment by announcing its ARKit for iOS devices at WWDC 2017. Later this year, while announcing the iconic iPhoneX with an infinity display, Apple finally pushed the ARKit across the globe to all of its iPhone users through the iOS 11 software upgrade.
As per the latest reports from the tech industry, Apple is further gearing up for AR and is likely preparing to launch its indigenous AR headset by 2020, with a dedicated OS.
Apple’s Dedicated AR Headset with ‘rOS’
According to Bloomberg, reliable sources have claimed that Apple is planning to launch its dedicated AR Headset by 2020. Mike Rockwell, who is currently leading Apple’s AR plans, is working with a dedicated team of several hundred engineers for “several hardware and software projects” under the code name ‘T288’.
The reports also suggest that Apple will be further transitioning from its existing “ARKit on iOS” plans to a more dedicated operating system, ‘rOS,’ for its AR Headset. The AR Headset will also be hosting a high-end ultra-sharp display with a dedicated chip that does all the computations necessary for an immersive AR experience. Apple seems to have smartly selected the name ‘rOS’ which means ‘reality operating system’, instead of ‘aOS’ or ‘vOS’. This could mean that the design for ‘rOS’ will be generalized for creating both – augmented and virtual reality experiences.
Apple is said to be experimenting with several different solutions and is reportedly creating a head-mounted AR headset for internal testing. This headset is supposedly using the iPhone for driving AR interactions while the engineering team behind the project is using HTC Vive for software design tasks. For input commands, the company is said to be experimenting with voice interactive services using Siri, head gesture and touch panels, as per the report.
For applications, engineers are testing a range of apps for 360 video-playback as well as mapping and texting to virtual meeting rooms. This hints at some sort of development taking place in the virtual reality space as well! It will be really interesting to see if developers can get some VR Porn games over this generalized ‘rOS’ platform.
Apple Buys AR Headset Startup Vrvana
Giving a further boost to its ambitious project for augmented reality, reports suggest that Apple has recently acquired the AR headset startup ‘Vrvana’ for a price of $30 million. Apple has refused to comment on this story for the time-being but reports show that Vrvana employees have joined the development team at Apple.
Vrvana launched its VR Headset, named Totem, through a Kickstarter campaign back in 2014. Totem was then said to be an advanced VR headset that would host some interesting features like hand-tracking, inside-out tracking and others. However, the VR headset raised only half of its $35,000 goal and failed to see the light of the day.
However, the company refused to give up its hopes and recently released a new headset that combines AR and VR in an all-in-one package. The headset hosts two front-facing cameras for inside-out tracking capabilities. The cameras also work as a passthrough for showing the real world inside the headset and projecting virtual images onto the display for augmented reality. This new Totem headset offers a 120 field-of-view. It remains unclear whether Apple plans to use the Totem headset for further development or is just using it for testing purpose. Below is the detailed specs sheet for the headset.
Tim Cook Says ‘A Lot of Challenges to Consider’
While commenting on having its own AR headset, Apple boss, Tim Cook, said that there are a lot of challenges to consider before coming out with a final device.
Tim said “The display technology required, as well as putting enough stuff around your face – there’s huge challenges with that. The field of view, the quality of the display itself, it’s not there yet. We don’t give a rat’s about being first, we want to be the best, and give people a great experience. But now anything you would see on the market any time soon would not be something any of us would be satisfied with. Nor do I think the vast majority of people would be satisfied.”
One thing is clear that until Apple is completely prepared for launch, it won’t be releasing its AR headset in the market. Currently, the company seems to be normalizing the AR headset and will be releasing a product that is extremely easy to use by tech enthusiasts across all ages.