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Apple Wants to Sell an Augmented Reality Headset by 2020

Apple Is Said to Ramp Up Work on Augmented Reality Headset

Some of Apple's competitors, including Microsoft and Google, have already delivered augmented reality headsets.

Mike Rockwell, who previously led the engineering efforts at Dolby Labs, is at the helm of a team of several hundred engineers from across Apple all working on various hardware and software projects - including the AR headset - under the codename "T288", Bloomber reports. Citing sources "familiar with the situation", the report notes that this headset will feature a brand new display and run on a new chip and fresh operating system instead of the iOS mobile platform that now runs ARKit. As of the time of this writing, Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

Reportedly, Apple is looking to introduce a "breakthrough product" that could eventually succeed the iPhone as its flagship device, according to a Bloomberg report on Wednesday.

Because Apple doesn't yet have an augmented reality headset to call its own, the AR team in Cupertino is using HTC Vive headsets for testing purposes. With augmented reality, you aren't shut off from the world around you, but virtual elements can be overlaid on the real world.

AR could help Apple re-energize its fan base and re-establish its mobile leadership, according to TechRepublic's Conner Forrest. In June 2016, the company won a patent for a device with a wraparound, translucent display.

VR and AR headsets are beginning to proliferate in the market, but they mostly require another device.

"We're already seeing things that will transform the way you work, play, connect and learn", he said in a recent company call. As expected, Apple will be using its own SoC design to power the headset, rather than relying on a third-party to make a chip that meets its requirements/expectations. As we've seen from other AR developers, minimizing technology to work in an AR headset is still a hard proposition.

More detail includes that Apple is still considering how to control the device, using either head gestures and voice or a touch panel. Engineers are also prototyping a number of apps, including mapping, texting, virtual meeting rooms, and 360-degree video. Multiple challenges remain unsolved, including designing a wireless device that can display AR visuals for long enough without depleting the battery. "We don't (care) about being first; we want to be best in creating people's experiences". AR on smartphones is seen as a first step toward consumer adoption of the technology.