Apple Inc.’s much-anticipated mixed reality headset is getting a slew of interesting features, according to a report from The Information, which revealed a roundup of technical details about the upcoming device today.
The headset has been subject to numerous reports for the past two years as it has been in continuous development and its expected launch date has been pushed out repeatedly. It is now expected to launch sometime this year.
A particularly alluring feature mentioned in the report suggests that small motors will automatically adjust the internal lenses to match the user’s vision in order to provide the clearest view possible. It will do so using the wearer’s interpupillary distance – the range between the pupils – in order to provide the largest field of view possible for each individual.
It is also expected to have a 120-degree field of view, similar to the Valve Index, which is greater than the Meta Quest Pro’s 106-degree field of view. Users will also be able to attach custom prescription lenses for those who wear glasses.
Another interesting feature will be a small, digital crown-like dial on the side – similar to the Apple Watch — that will allow users to rapidly switch between virtual and mixed reality views. This means that at any time, the user can reach up and “see” what’s around them without removing the headset, it will do so by using cameras built into the headset in order to pass through a view of the physical world that virtual objects can be placed over.
Currently, the headset is expected to look like ski goggles and will be built out of aluminum, glass and carbon fiber to give it a sleeker footprint and reduce its weight on users’ faces. The objective will be to provide a more comfortable product that is “much thinner and lighter,” than the recently released Meta Quest Pro, the report said.
According to The Information, the device will be powered by a waist-mounted battery to make the device as light as possible and it will be connected by a MagSafe-like power cable and have a charge of approximately two hours.
The display apparently remains the previously reported 8K resolution, with 4K for each eye driven by micro-OLED displays from Sony. There will also be an outer screen that is intended to show the facial expressions of the user but with a low-refresh rate.
The headset will also feature more than a dozen cameras and sensors that will capture facial expressions and body movements – such as gestures and the users’ legs. This way the headset will be able to provide enough data for mixed reality and collaboration applications to recreate a lifelike simulation of body language and movement for other people to see expressions and motion from the user.
Aside from the external cameras, each panel inside will also feature its own eye-tracking camera designed to allow the headset to follow the user’s gaze. This will permit the headset to perform what is known as foveated rendering and conserve power by only rendering a tiny portion of the view at maximum resolution.
For sound, Apple designed different headbands that can be swapped in and out, including one for developers and one for consumers with speakers. The headset does not feature a physical headphone jack or Bluetooth; instead, users can connect their latest-generation AirPods Pro, featuring the H2 chip for sound. It is suggested that other wireless headphones will not work because there would be too great a lag between visuals and sound to operate correctly.
The report continues to place the price tag for the device in the range of approximately $3,000, depending on its configuration.
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