Users of Apple's mixed realty headset might need to wear AirPods; here's why

Users of Apple's mixed realty headset might need to wear AirPods; here's why
Apple is expected to introduce its mixed-reality headset early this year. The product could be crazy expensive with a price tag in the $2,000-$3,000 ballpark. The headset will use both Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). The former takes users to environments that aren't real but are immersive enough to allow users to feel as though they are doing things that they can't in real life such as piloting an airplane, facing a 100MPH fastball, and more.

Augmented Reality (AR) shows computer-generated data on top of a live feed. A good example of AR is Google Maps' Live View which is used to help someone walking get from point "A" to point "B". The camera from the phone shows a live view of what is in front of the user and giant arrows layered on top of the screen show the user the direction to go. It also shows off landmarks and famous places.

Apple might require AirPods Pro 2 to be used with the mixed reality headset for audio

According to The Information (via 9to5Mac), the H2 chip being used for the mixed-reality headset (rumored to be called Reality One or Reality Pro) will sync with the H2 chip inside the AirPods Pro 2. The chip inside the earbuds reportedly carries a hidden low-latency transmission mode which might indicate that those wearing the mixed reality headset will have to don a pair of AirPods Pro 2 buds to communicate with others when wearing the headset.

The headset will indeed feature integrated speakers, but these are loud enough to allow bystanders to listen in to a conversation. To prevent this from happening, Apple might demand that Reality One users wear AirPods for security reasons. The report even mentions the possibility that Apple's AirPods roadmap is taking a detour specifically for this reason. Apple is expected to release an additional (and presumably cheaper) AirPods model sporting the H2 chip.

The report also states that Apple will not offer alternate headbands for the product as it does with wristbands for the Apple Watch. Unlike the exchangeable wristbands, the headbands for the Reality One could have electronics and possibly batteries inside of them. Developers, though, will have access to a special headband that will allow the mixed-reality headset to connect with a Mac (no, not a Big Mac wise guy).

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The Reality One will supposedly feature a 4K micro-LED display for each eye and a screen facing outward that will show the user's facial expressions to other people. The headset will be equipped with 12 cameras and other sensors. Under the hood will be Apple's 5nm M2 chip carrying a whopping 20 billion transistors.

A "Digital Crown" will be used to activate passthrough mode on the Reality One

The product will include spatial audio which delivers surround sound allowing the user to determine if audio is coming from in front of him, behind him, or from either side. Made with materials like aluminum, carbon fiber, and glass, Apple's mixed reality headset is said to be lighter and thinner than the recently released Meta Quest Pro.

The Reality One will offer smooth transitions between VR and AR and a physical dial similar to the Digital Crown on the Apple Watch will be used to activate the passthrough video mode allowing users to see what is going on around them. Hand gestures and voice recognition will be used to input data and navigate the headset.

Even if the headset is introduced early in the year, Apple might wait to release it until later in 2023. This could be the most complex device that Apple has ever built and with the price so high, the pressure is on Apple to get everything perfect right out of the box.

Apple is also believed to be working on its AR spectacles which could be released in a few years. Many believe that it will be the device that replaces the iPhone.

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