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Apple working on TWO distinct augmented reality devices

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Apple is working on TWO augmented reality devices including an Oculus-style headset that blends AR and VR

  • The report suggest Apple is developing two distinct AR/VR devices
  • One will be a more heavy-duty headset while the other will be lighter glasses
  • Apple executives reportedly had disagreements over the device’s design 
  • The headset will reportedly not need a separate processing hub despite initial design schemes

Apple is developing two distinct augmented reality and virtual reality devices that are still years away from being released according to a new report from Bloomberg. 

The devices, according to the report, are codenamed N421, which is said to be a lightweight pair of augmented reality glasses that can overlay text and images on a screen, and N301, which is a bulkier and more powerful headset that blends augmented reality and virtual reality.

The N301 could be released in 2021 while the N421 is expected to come out in 2023 at the earliest.  

Apple's AR ambitions have been detailed in an extensive report by Bloomberg which suggests the existence of two separate AR/VR devices including a more powerful headset in addition to more lightweight AR glasses

Apple’s AR ambitions have been detailed in an extensive report by Bloomberg which suggests the existence of two separate AR/VR devices including a more powerful headset in addition to more lightweight AR glasses 

While there have been plenty of rumors about Apple’s secretive plans in developing AR hardware, the report is the closest look yet at the company’s intentions.  

The bulkier, more powerful headset will reportedly use ‘ultra-high resolution’ screens that will make it nearly impossible to tell the difference between real-world and digital objects.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AR AND VR?

Virtual reality is a computer-generated simulation of an environment or situation

  • It immerses the user by making them feel like they are in the simulated reality through images and sounds
  • For example, in VR, you could feel like you’re climbing a mountain while you’re at home

In contrast, augmented reality layers computer-generated images on top of an existing reality

  • AR is developed into apps to bring digital components into the real world
  • For example, in the Pokemon Go app, the characters seem to appear in real world scenarios

That technology will be coupled with what the report – which cites anonymous sources familiar with the matter – is calling a ‘cinematic speaker system’ that will add to the hardware’s realism.

The details of the speaker system have yet to be revealed, but Apple has already worked to create what it’s calling ‘3D audio’ that’s capable of mirroring the sound of virtual objects based on their position in a room.

Likewise, a patent application filed by Apple last year shows that the company is pursing a technology that more seamlessly blends objects rendered in a display, increasing the depth-of-field and combating the resulting eyestrain and nausea often associated with AR and VR technology. 

Bloomberg also reports that there has been internal division among Apple’s top executives on which direction to take Apple’s AR/VR headset.

The headset was originally envisioned as dependent on an external device resembling a small Mac that handled most of its processing power and wirelessly broadcast the information to the headset. 

While that would have made the headset much more powerful, Apple’s Jony Ive reportedly disliked the idea of making a headset that was contingent on separate hardware.

Bloomberg reports that Apple CEO Tim Cook eventually sided with Ive and is now pursuing a less powerful device that operates without the wireless hub. 

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