Apple could reportedly release an Augmented Reality (AR) headset as early as next year, with AR glasses set to follow by 2025, according to a well-regarded analyst.
Apple has been rumoured to be working on AR or VR devices for years, but the research note by Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities offers some of the most concrete details on the company’s possible plans to date.
Kuo said he sees Apple’s headset product offering both AR and immersive VR experiences, while glasses or contact lens-type products would focus on AR, MacRumors reported.
AR devices in a form similar to a contact lens are likely to arrive only sometime after 2030, Kuo said.
He said several prototypes of Apple’s headset weigh about 200-300 grams, but solving technical problems could allow the weight to be reduced to a relatively light 100-200 grams.
Kuo also expects such a unit to be priced at around $1,000 in the US, around the pricing of a “high-end iPhone”.
By comparison, Microsoft’s second-generation HoloLens, which is currently targeted at enterprise AR applications, weighs 566 grams and costs $3,500.
Kuo confirmed a previous rumour in saying that Apple’s unit uses Sony Micro-OLED displays along with a number of exterior cameras that can display video of the user’s surroundings, making for a “see-through AR experience“.
The headset can “also offer a VR experience”, he added.
Kuo said Apple’s headset is “portable”, with its own computing and storage resources, but not as “mobile” as an iPhone, although its mobility could be enhanced “when the technology improves”.
He said the unit could potentially provide an immersive experience “significantly better” than existing VR products.
“Although Apple has been focusing on AR, we think the hardware specifications of this product can provide an immersive experience that is significantly better than existing VR products,” Kuo wrote.
He said the device may be tightly integrated with video-related applications such as the Apple TV+ streaming service and Apple Arcade gaming as a selling point.
Kuo said he believes there is as yet no prototype for Apple’s long-rumoured AR glasses, which would provide an “optical see-through AR experience” and would be more of a “mobile” product than the headset.
“The glasses focus more on providing a ‘mobile + AR’ experience,” Kuo wrote.
He speculated that after 2030 products such as AR contact lenses could usher in an era of “invisible computing”.
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