APPLE'S LONG RUMOURED augmented reality (AR) headset could see an official launch in 2019.
So says Bloomberg, which claims that the firm is in the process of "ramping up" its plans to launch an AR device which would take on rival products from the likes of Microsoft, Facebook's Oculus and HTC.
The firm is said to be rushing to get the technology ready for a launch in 2019, and the headset could make its way into the hands of consumers by the start of 2020.
AR headsets already exist, but they mainly rely on smartphones for their processors and screens. In virtual reality (VR), the running has been done by HTC with its Vive headset, which was developed with Valve Software and runs via Valve's popular Steam PC game download service.
Apple's headset, instead of relying on smartphone, will come with its own display, processor and operating system, insiders suggest.
Speaking to Bloomberg, they said that Apple is working on a tough product development timeline, although it's likely to change over the coming months.
The insiders, who chose to speak to Bloomberg anonymously due to the secrecy of the project, apparently understand the situation in detail.
AR is one of a number of emerging technologies, although it hasn't yet had the impact of virtual reality. The tech pushes augmented images onto real ones, overlaying what the user is seeing in the physical world with computer-generated images.
Apple boss Tim Cook has previously said that he favours AR over VR, mainly because it is "less isolating". He also believes that it could have the same impact as the smartphone.
In a recent earnings call, he said: "We're already seeing things that will transform the way you work, play, connect and learn. Put simply, we believe AR is going to change the way we use technology forever."
Ian Hughes, an analyst at 451 Research, believes that this technology could be big for the company.
"Apple have been on a trajectory for augmented reality for some time, with CEO Tim Cook publicly declaring interest and the release of the ARKit as a core component of IOS this year," he said.
"Headsets and their technology have a way to go yet to reach the sort of mass-market adoption and acceptability that smartphones have. With companies like Magic Leap waiting in the wings it makes sense for Apple to indicate its intentions in the space.
"Microsoft's Hololens and its evolving mixed-reality reference platform also signal competition in the field. 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.
"Standard heads-up displays, such as Google Glass Enterprise edition and a number of other providers, have seen an upswing in use in industry, so we can expect a market for the next wave." µ
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