Apple’s Rumored AR/VR Headset Might Require Nearby IPhone, Mac Connection

(Representative Image) Apple's rumored AR/VR headset will be designed to rely on another device, and may have to offload more processor-heavy tasks to a connected iPhone or Mac. (Mentatdgt/Pexels)

WASHINGTON — American tech giant Apple’s rumored AR/VR headset will be designed to rely on another device and may have to offload more processor-heavy tasks to a connected iPhone or Mac.

Apple is reportedly working on a custom chip for the headset, an SoC that is intentionally missing capabilities found in Apple’s other processors.


While the new chip would not have Apple’s neural engine, which handles AI and machine learning, it is reportedly designed to be better at wirelessly sending and receiving data and compressing/decompressing video than traditional chips.

Sources claim it is designed to be as power-efficient as possible for maximum battery life, something that both removing unused parts of the chip and streaming data from another device might help with.

For wearable technology, like a watch or set of glasses, there has always been a delicate balance between battery life and performance/capability.

The original Apple Watch handed off many tasks to a connected iPhone. However, Apple could eventually make its onboard processor powerful enough to handle many of them.

Suppose the idea of Apple’s headset relying on a separate device sounds familiar. In that case, it might be because of earlier reports, which mentioned that initial versions of the headset were meant to work with a separate “stationary hub, which in prototype form resembled a small Mac,” until Jony Ive stepped in to say that it should be self-contained. Tim Cook sided with his design chief.

Though Ive no longer works for Apple, that does not necessarily mean Apple’s going back to a bulky or stationary hub.

The AR/VR headset still has its own CPU and GPU inside and suggests it might be able to communicate with a phone or tablet or even work in a primary stand-alone mode.

Some of Apple’s devices, like the Apple Watch, can still perform basic tasks in low battery mode.

The device will have an “unusually large” image sensor, as big as one of the headset’s lenses, which has apparently been difficult to manufacture.

It hasn’t shown up in previous leaks.

In a new research note, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said that Apple will release a “helmet-type” mixed reality headset next year, augmented reality glasses in mid-2025, and an AR contact lens product by 2030-2040.

“We foresee that the helmet product will provide AR and VR experiences, while glasses and contact lens types of products are more likely to focus on AR applications,” Kuo writes in the note.

“The headset will be able to offer an immersive experience Kuo says will be significantly better than those on the market now, with Sony micro-OLED displays, and should be able to run independently of an iPhone, more like a portable product than a mobile one.”

It is designed to “capture high-resolution image data from a user’s surroundings for AR.” That might come in handy, considering the headset is reportedly both an AR and VR device.

Since it is difficult to do VR without completely obscuring the user’s view and challenging to do AR without the user being able to see the outside world, the image sensor could be meant to provide an idea of the user’s surroundings from inside the headset — similar to Oculus’ passthrough view, but perhaps at higher quality.

As for what the headset will actually do, Apple CEO Tim Cook has long been enthused about AR and how it will “transform the way you work, play, connect and learn” and let people have “enhanced” conversations.

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Saptak Datta and Praveen Pramod Tewari



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