Apple Reportedly Developing Standalone AR Headset For 2019 Release

Virtual reality is proving to be more than a passing fad. Things could have fizzled after the Oculus Rift finally came to market following a hyped up (and successful) Kickstarter run, but what happened instead is that it started a movement. Everybody seems to be jumping on board, from HTC to Microsoft. You can add Apple to the list as well, and not just because of fancy camera technologies in its newest iPhones. Apparently Apple is looking at creating a standalone augmented reality headset within the next two years.

Augmented reality (AR) is a form of VR that blends virtual objects into real world settings. Microsoft is pushing mixed reality (capable of both AR and VR experiences) pretty hard with the Fall Creators Update for Windows 10, with several hardware partners introducing lower cost mixed reality headsets for use with the OS. And according to a Bloomberg report, Apple will have its AR ducks in a row in terms of production by 2019, and could ship a product by 2020.


Apple's standalone AR headset will not require a connection to a computer or a mobile device. It will have its own embedded display, run on a custom system-on-chip (SoC) that is being developed in-house, and have its own OS. In short, it will be a self-contained solution with all of the necessary hardware and software in the headset itself—no external devices will be required.

Naturally Apple has chosen not to comment on the report, but it is worth noting that Tim Cook has gushed about the potential of AR in the past. It was a little over a year ago when Cook told ABC News' Good Morning America that AR is more "commercially viable [than VR] because it allows users to be more present."

"There's virtual reality and there's augmented reality—both of these are incredibly interesting. But my own view is that augmented reality is the larger of the two, probably by far," Cook added.

Apple has been invested in AR for the past couple of years, starting with the formation of a team dedicated to AR projects. It is led by Mike Rockwell, who previously was the engineering boss at Dolby Labs. His team at Apple has drown for a few hundred engineers spread out among both of Apple's campuses in Cupertino and Sunnyvale, with several hardware and software projects being worked on.

The company does not have a working headset of its own yet, so in the meantime, it has been using the Rift and HTC Vive for testing.