Apple tipped to launch standalone AR headset in 2019

Apple may launch an augmented reality headset running a custom OS by 2020

Apple tipped to launch standalone AR headset in 2019

Bloomberg reports that the headset will have its own display, and that it will be powered by a dedicated chip and operating system. This in-house chip is similar to the concept of "system-on-a-package" that can be seen in the Apple Watch. The new operating system - dubbed "rOS" for "reality operating system" - is based on iOS, but Apple is far from finalizing how users will control the device, investigating voice control through Siri, head gestures and touch panels as possibilities. The release of the device is at least two years away, but the 2020-ish launch will likely be preceded by an announcement and developer SDK in 2019.

Speculation around Apple's intentions only increased when CEO Tim Cook earlier this year, predicted that AR technology could have as much impact as the smartphone. Apple's AR team, under the umbrella code name of "T288", is working on many hardware and software projects, notes Bloomberg. Though we may not see the headset for another couple of years, Apple is said to be pouring resources into its development.

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Speaking of hardware, Apple's metal framing and case supplier for the iPhone, Catcher Technology, says it will start making lightweight casing for augmented reality devices, reports Nikkei. The company just may change that with its rumored augmented reality headset, which apparently now has a codename and its own operating system. Apple hopes to be able to have the requisite technology to make its headset a reality by 2019 and then get it to customers soon after. "I can tell you that the technology itself doesn't exist to do [AR glasses] in a quality way", Cook said to Vogue in October after dismissing "rumours and gossip" about the idea.

A look at Apple's AR capabilities on iOS 11.

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Corroborating Bloomberg's information, a Nikkei report published yesterday suggested that Apple may have already tapped its metal casing supplier, Catcher Technology, to help it build out AR glasses or headset. But as it will run an AR headset, it will have to function differently from the mobile OS.

Apple's ARKit is already one of the best augmented reality engines around. As we've seen from other AR developers, minimizing technology to work in an AR headset is still a hard proposition. In virtual reality (VR), the running has been done by HTC with its Vive headset, which was developed with Valve Software and runs via Valve's popular Steam PC game download service.

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