According to a report from The Information, Apple’s rumored AR/VR headset might depend on another device and may have to offload more processor heavy tasks to a connected iPhone or Mac. In short, the custom chip for the headset on which Apple is reportedly working might be intentionally missing capabilities found in other Apple processors.
The report conveys that the new chips don’t come with Apple’s neural engine, which handles AI and machine learning. The Information mentioned the chip is particularly designed to be as power efficient as possible for offering maximum battery life. For wearable technology, there’s always been a delicate balance between battery life and performance.
The AR/VR headset will have its own CPU and GPU inside. This suggests it might be able to communicate with a phone or tablet and work in a basic standalone mode. As of now, already some Apple Watches can perform basic tasks in low battery mode.
The device is expected to come with an “unusually large” image sensor. The report points out the size might be as big as one of the headset’s lenses. It is designed to “capture high-resolution image data from a user’s surroundings for AR”. This might come in handy considering the headset is reportedly both an AR and VR device.
It is to be noted that rumors about Apple working on an augmented reality device have been around for years. Well known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that we might see a “helmet-type” headset in 2022 but the new report suggests custom chips for the headset won’t be ready for mass production for at least a year. If this is to be true then even in the best case scenario, it will be difficult for Apple to deliver a product by the end of 2022. The Information believes the sleeker glasses model could come out in 2023. Kuo, on the other hand, predicts it around mid 2025.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has discussed for a long time how AR can “transform the way you work, play, connect and learn” powering people into “enhanced” conversations. As of now, frankly, we don’t have a clear picture of the exact AR/VR features or interface Apple is working on or is planning to implement, therefore, we have no other choice than to stick around for a few more years.