Apple never jumped on the VR bandwagon, instead deciding AR was the way to go and adding it to the core upgrades of its latest iOS update. Then there were those weird rumors about AR glasses Apple was developing behind the scenes. That was just the beginning it seems, as Apple is reportedly working on much bigger plans for its AR ambitions.
According to CNET, a source familiar with Apple’s plans says the iPhone maker is working on a headset that will not only support AR but also VR. Internally, the project is being called T288 and is in the early stages of development. Apple is reportedly planning for a release date in 2020 at the earliest, but could still decide to delay or completely shut down the project.
The headset will come with 8K displays for each individual eye, fixing the biggest issue plaguing current headsets like HTC’s Vive: the screen door effect in which users can make out the gap between individual pixels due to the proximity to the displays. Coincidentally, the HTC Vive VR headset offers a resolution of 1440 by 1600 for each, significantly lower than what Apple plans to implement.
Apple is planning to use 5-nanometer processors for the headset. In case you are wondering, Apple does not currently manufacturer processors that small and powerful. Apple caps out with a 10-nanometer processor inside the iPhone X. Making smaller, more powerful processors will eliminate the need to tether to a powerful PC like current VR headsets, but they don’t exist yet. That’s a contributing for the far-off release date.
Another reason for the long development time frame is the use of next-generation 60GHz WiGig technology. WiGig is the tech used in HTC’s wireless adapter for the Vive headset. Apple wants to use the second generation of the wireless tech which will come with 802.11ay increasing both speed and range. That’s likely needed with the intensive 8K display Apple is planning on incorporating and to allow for true wireless connectivity.
Prior to HTC offering the wireless adapter for the Vive headset, it was annoyingly tethered to cables. This watered down the experience as users could not move too much around their surroundings lest they risk disconnecting the cables. Apple wants to completely avoid the issue of wires and go wireless right out of the get-go.
You should take all of this with a grain of salt. Given the early development of this supposed AR/VR 8K headset, Apple may completely abandon the project before it even gets close to production. But given Apple’s odd embracement of augmented reality, this bodes well for the project’s chances of becoming a reality.