Mark Gurman at Bloomberg reports on the group inside Apple working on VR/AR hardware:
Although the headset now in development is less technologically ambitious than originally intended, it’s pretty advanced. It’s designed to feature ultra-high-resolution screens that will make it almost impossible for a user to differentiate the virtual world from the real one. A cinematic speaker system will make the experience even more realistic, people who have used prototypes say.
According to the report, Apple was at one point working on a more powerful headset targeted more at VR, but Jony Ive and Tim Cook nixed the idea of something that took you out of the world around you.
Both VR and AR strike me as being at the place that smartphones and smart watches were before the iPhone and Apple Watch: technology that exists and is available, but hasn’t yet reached mass consumer acceptance. That said, Apple needs to crack two key things in order to get there: First, explain to the average person what’s compelling about using such a device, and second, get those consumers to a point where they’re willing to overcome the reluctance to wear such a device.
VR has a leg up in both those departments: in the first case, because VR games mostly demo pretty well (excepting for people who have nausea-related problems with them), and second, because it’s something you only wear for a little while, in a specific place—such as your house. By contrast, AR’s use cases are more nebulous, and it’s something that you’re probably going to be wearing when you go out in the world.
Other interesting tidbits in the piece include the suggestion that chips used in an early prototype of Apple’s more advanced headset have been repurposed for the upcoming Mac transition (I’m presuming they’re graphics related), and that Apple’s car project has been “deemed a disaster” inside the company.