Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) plans to have an augmented reality headset ready in 2019 and shipping as early as the following year, according to Bloomberg.
Bloomberg notes that Apple doesn't have a fully operational headset of its own either, so most of the testing is being done on the HTC Vive virtual reality headset as well a a device similar to an Oculus Gear VR that uses the screen, cameras, and chipsets of the iPhone.
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.
Think the Apple Watch family's "System in Package", combining a CPU, graphics processor, AI chip and possibly even more components to occupy significantly less space than a conventional smartphone SoC. "Put simply, we believe AR is going to change the way we use technology forever".
There are still plenty of details to work out, such as how users will launch apps or control them through the headset. The standalone AR headset will reportedly feature a new chip and run a custom operating system based on iOS, internally dubbed "rOS" - short for "reality operating system".
Avid tech geeks will notice Apple's plans sound a lot like what Google's fledgling Daydream VR platform, which consists of the Daydream View VR headset with controller, and a special version of the Google Play Store just for discovering and installing VR apps. Aetna workers are co-located at Apple's offices in Cupertino, he said, as the company looks to have a variety of apps ready in time for the January 1 start of the Apple Watch pilot program.
Some of Apple's competitors, including Microsoft and Google, have already delivered augmented reality headsets.
If Cook is right, the next big disruptor in technology could be coming sooner than expected. Referring to challenges creating displays, Chief Design Officer Jony Ive told a tech panel last month that "there are certain ideas that we have and we are waiting for the technology to catch up with the idea".
"We don't give a rats about being first, we want to be best in creating people's experiences", he said. Virtual reality places a user inside a virtual world, completely removing them from the physical world.