Innovation

Apple planning AR, VR hybrid headset that could signal industry's critical mass

The project is called T288, and would likely be released in 2020.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Apple is developing a hybrid AR/VR headset codenamed T288 that would feature an 8K display for each eye.
  • Apple's interest in AR and VR could signal the maturity of the market, meaning businesses should pay attention to the space.

Apple is working on a hybrid headset that combines augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) capabilities, and offers an 8K display for each eye, according to a Friday report from our sister site CNET.

The codename for the project is T288, the report said. The headset will be wireless, and Apple is targeting a release window sometime in 2020.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been known to throw his weight behind the potential of AR. In a 2017 interview with The Independent, he said: "I think AR is that big, it's huge. I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives."

SEE: Virtual and augmented reality policy (Tech Pro Research)

Apple's latest iPhones have added some AR capabilities, as CNET pointed out, but this headset would mark a shift toward the firm working with VR capabilities as well. A previous Bloomberg report in November 2017 predicted an Apple AR headset by 2019 or 2020.

Citing "a person familiar with the company's plans," CNET noted that, although Apple's headset would be wireless, it would connected to a dedicated box to power its experiences. The connection would happen via a "high-speed, short-range wireless technology," the report said, and a proprietary 5-nanometer chip would power the headset. For comparison, the iPhone X is powered by a 10-nanometer processor.

Apple's method to entering a new space has routinely been to find a budding market and wait until it has its product just right before entering it. And, historically, the firm has done well to get into a market when it is on the upswing, and outplay its competition with a better user experience and style. Case in point would be the iPhone.

So, if Apple is truly planning an AR/VR headset, that may mean that it is about to make a big bet on the space, and that the industry is set for explosive growth. For businesses looking into AR and VR, this may mean that it is time to make an initial investment in the technology and begin hiring professionals who can use it.

For Apple to win, it will need to follow its standard game play—play up the user experience, Gartner analyst Tuong H. Nguyen told TechRepublic last year. Apple will need to bring "together technology in such a way that's interesting, useful and easy to use," Nguyen said.

Also see

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Image: James Martin/CNET

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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