Apple Allegedly Working On 8K AR Headset With Wi-Fi 6E And The Usual Ridiculous Price Tag
When consumer virtual reality made a resurgence with the launch of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, many people dismissed it as a short-lived gimmick, with widespread comparisons to the brief hype period surrounding 3D TVs. Those people have not been paying attention to the last two decades' determined efforts to use dystopian cyberpunk fiction as a guideline, rather than a tale of caution.
It's impossible to argue against the idea that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), known collectively as "mixed reality," are the future of interactive content—if not almost-all content, eventually. Everyone who's anyone is doing something with virtual reality. Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony; you'd have a harder time finding a large tech company that isn't involved somehow. There's one name that's been conspicuously low profile from this market segment, though, and it's Apple.
Rumors have been swirling about Apple's purportedly-forthcoming mixed-reality headset for several years now. Last year the company bought NextVR, a startup focused on delivering traditional-media experiences (like televised sports) through VR. Early this year, it came out that Apple's first headset will probably be an expensive and niche product focused primarily on VR and intended to simply establish a market presence. From there, rumors say Cupertino will attempt to launch a second-generation device that primarily focuses on AR experiences.
That first-generation device has been a long time coming. The latest news through the grapevine comes (by way of 9to5Mac) from famed Apple oracle Ming-Chi Kuo, who says that the upcoming headset will support Wi-Fi 6, like the Oculus Quest. The ultra-high-throughput wireless protocol enables 120-Hz streams on the Quest, and will likely be employed on Apple's device for the same reasons. Kuo goes on to say that
Indeed, it seems like we won't see Apple's headset anytime soon; the rumors place it entering production in Q4 next year. Supposedly, the fruit company's device is going to be a top-end mixed-reality HMD, with "advanced sensors, 8K displays, and powerful integrated processors." Unsurprisingly, it's probably going to be expensive, too, which is likely a lot of where the "niche" prediction comes in. Bloomberg said early this year that the headset could be north of $3,000.
That sounds crazy compared to something like the Quest 2 or even Valve's Index, but the Quest 2 is significantly lower-end than the rumored Apple design, while the Index requires a whole separate PC to do its thing. Still, even the Pimax Vision 8K X headset is only $1500. Should these rumors prove true, it will be fascinating to see what Apple can do to justify the price of its mixed-reality headgear.