Industry

Apple may be working on an AR headset for 2020

Apple may be working on an AR headset for 2020

Could an AR headset really transcend the iPhone as Apple's number one product?

The tech giant is moving forward with an augmented reality headset that could make its way to store shelves in 2020, Bloomberg is reporting, citing people who claim to have knowledge of its plans. The headset would feature its own display rather than relying an iPhone, and it would run a new spin-off from iOS in the vein of watchOS or tvOS, now called rOS internally, for "reality operating system". He didn't outright deny the rumours though, instead explaining there are technological issues preventing AR going mainstream this decade. Apple has reportedly declined to comment.

Apple sees the AR headset as a successor to the iPhone, the report said. But while we wait for a hardware announcement, Apple will reportedly release a new version of ARKit next year that will have more advanced tracking abilities.

It's no secret that Apple is bullish on AR and has been working hard on it for the past few years. Apple will use the interim time to get consumers familiar with augmented reality using ARKit on the iPhone. 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. Being an independent product, it will also have its own display, unlike most of the virtual reality headsets on the market.

Apple's push to create an AR headset has been expansive and aggressive, according to Bloomberg.

However, Apple has kept the deadline a good two years away and it would seem that Apple's current focus would be to upgrade the existing ARkit and make the AR experience better on its current devices. Scattered across office parks in both Cupertino and Sunnyvale, California, the team is working on several hardware and software projects under the umbrella code name of "T288".

According to Bloomberg, the iPhone maker is now experimenting with ways in which the headset can be operated, like using Siri, head gestures or a touch panel.

In his interview with Nikkei, Catcher CEO Allen Horng said that his company is now working on an AR device, but stopped short of specifically naming Apple.