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Apple Could Ship an Augmented Reality Headset in 2020

09 November 2017, 12:55 | Megan Pierce

Apple Bets Big on Augmented Reality With iPhone X

Apple Bets Big on Augmented Reality With iPhone X

It is no secret that Apple is now infatuated with augmented reality technology.

Speaking of hardware, Apple's metal framing and case supplier for the iPhone, Catcher Technology, says it will start making lightweight casing for augmented reality devices, reports Nikkei. This is part of a larger AR initiative which was kicked off by the development and the release of Apple's ARKit. The company just may change that with its rumored augmented reality headset, which apparently now has a codename and its own operating system. Apple has several patents related to the technology.

Apple publicly demoed a number of unusual and exciting augmented reality apps created with its new ARKit developer framework over the last few months.

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Sources familiar with the matter tell Bloomberg that the device will differ from traditional VR and AR headsets in that it won't be powered by a smartphone.

Corroborating Bloomberg's information, a Nikkei report published yesterday suggested that Apple may have already tapped its metal casing supplier, Catcher Technology, to help it build out AR glasses or headset. Citing sources "familiar with the situation", the report notes that this headset will feature a brand new display and run on a new chip and fresh operating system instead of the iOS mobile platform that now runs ARKit. Things could still change, but for now, that seems to be the timeframe Apple is working towards.

This integrated design would be classic Apple, and could be a potential threat to Qualcomm's efforts to make its Snapdragon processors, typically used in most Android devices, a viable chipset for standalone mobile headsets. Many had thought the iPhone X would have more augmented reality capability, but its key 3D sensing kit is on the front of the device to detect faces for unlocking and animation. The OS would borrow from iOS. He didn't outright deny the rumours though, instead explaining there are technological issues preventing AR going mainstream this decade. The chip will be similar in concept to the "system-on-a-package" component that's found inside the Apple Watch. The mechanisms for launching and interacting these apps - whether via head gestures or through Siri - hasn't yet been decided upon, according to Bloomberg. This is in line with what CEO Tim Cook said last month while addressing rumors of the AR glasses. The headset will be capable of running its own apps, and have access to a dedicated version of Apple's app store.

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