Rumors surrounding Apple secretly developing its own range of Virtual or Augmented Reality (VR/AR) headsets, have circulated for a very long time now. There exist several, indirect elements of potential proof.
Firstly, it recently became known that one of the tech giant’s own employees suffered retinal damage during the testing of ‘some form of optical technology.’ Additionally, the Cupertino-based company has acquired start-up enterprise, VRvana and their Mixed-Reality (MR) helmet, Totem. So, what’s going on? Are we poised to see a VR-headset from Apple?
VRvana first presented its MR headset at CES (The International Consumer Electronics Show), this year, and made a real splash, winning one of the most prestigious awards with Best in Show. The device combines several cameras, a unique OLED display on which both completely opaque and transparent images can be displayed, as well as many sensors that allow the manipulation of AR and VR objects with the aid of the user’s hands. What is most surprising is that developers of the headset managed to achieve such an incredibly low response time: only 3 milliseconds, while other headsets fluctuate in the 15-20 milliseconds range.
It is too early to judge what Apple intends to do with their acquired company, but very likely that they aim to both learn and exploit MR technology. We have already witnessed attempts to integrate MR into some of their gadgets, but what will the first Apple AR or VR headset be like? We can only imagine, or cannot. Not so long ago, Tim Cook said in an interview that low display resolution is the primary obstacle to allowing more wide use of this technology, but if anyone can push it upon the masses and have them swallow it all up, Apple can.
This year, Cook also acquired SensoMotoric Instruments, which specializes in tracking technology when working in AR/VR environments. Prior to this, Apple repeatedly bought up other small companies and start-ups related to this field, so with almost 100% certainty, we can say that in the coming years at annual tech expos, we will be presented, not only with the very latest iPhone and iPad, but also something entirely different.