$3,000 Apple AR/VR headset coming 2022 with eye tracking, 8K displays, much more

The Apple Car is very much the center of attention at the moment. But before it launches, we could see Apple enter a different product segment — the AR & VR headset market.

Apple’s first device is scheduled to launch in 2022 and now The Information has released a report that details some of the headset’s potential features.

Apple's mixed reality headset has two 8K displays

The publication, which claims to have seen images of a “late-stage prototype” and received info from a source with direct knowledge of the device, says the headset will be fitted with more than a dozen cameras.

These are used for accurate tracking of hand movements and are paired with two ultra-high-resolution 8K displays, meaning the headset’s picture quality would be far higher than rival headsets.

The two panels support advanced eye-tracking technology too. This feature has been in development for years, according to people with knowledge of the matter, and allows the headset to fully render only parts of the display.

The areas of the display that are detected as being in the user’s peripheral vision can be rendered at a lower quality, therefore reducing the computing needs and battery drain of the headset.

Here's what the Apple AR/VR headset could look like

Like Microsoft and others, Apple is planning a “mixed-reality effect” for the headset. It would see the external cameras used for showing video of the real world on the pair of displays. According to employees, the feature has the “ability to combine virtual reality experiences with games and other applications that use real-life objects surrounding the person wearing the headset.”

Design-wise, The Information described the product as a "sleek, curved visor attached to the face by a mesh material and swappable headbands." The sketch below is based on images of the prototype.

Users will need a cable to charge Apple’s headset — hopefully it uses USB-C rather than Lightning — although some of the swappable headbands that are in the works include additional battery capacity.

To control the mixed reality headset, Apple is looking at several methods. One of them includes a “thimble-like” device that’s worn on the user’s finger. It’s coupled with the built-in ability to respond to hand gestures.

Another prototype had a physical dial or crown, perhaps similar in design to the one included on the Apple Watch and AirPods Max, on the side of the visor. Its exact function is unclear.

The Apple mixed reality headset could retail at $3,000 

In October 2019, Apple told employees that it hoped to ship the mixed reality headset in 2022 before launching the more affordable Apple Glass AR headset in 2023. That timeline matches previous reports from Bloomberg and others.

Much like Microsoft’s HoloLens, Apple’s upcoming AR/VR headset will be a rather niche product likely geared towards business customers and that is reflected in the planned price.

Apple has discussed pricing the product around $3,000 in the United States, making it considerably more expensive than traditional VR headsets from Oculus and HTC but a little cheaper than Microsoft’s $3,500 HoloLens.

The Silicon Valley-based giant is reportedly planning to ship around 250,000 units in the first year — much less than the millions of iPhone, MacBook, and iPad units it sells each year.

Apple’s aforementioned Apple Glass AR headset will be positioned as the mainstream product once it arrives in 2023. Per leaked information, it could cost as little as $499, integrate a LiDAR Scanner, and be compatible with prescription lenses.

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