Apple is working on an advanced augmented reality (AR) headset. We know that much. And although the release timeline is still up in the air, a new report suggests that the device could arrive as soon as 2019.
Recent comments by a key Apple supplier could indicate that the Cupertino-based tech giant and its supply chain partners are being more aggressive with its AR headset ambitions than previously thought. Specifically, Quanta Computer Vice Chairman C.C. Leung told reporters at an earnings conference that a significant AR device will be released in under two years, according to Nikkei.
“We are working on an AR project and have studied the optical technologies that AR devices have needed since two years ago,” Leung said. “Currently, we see such a device in the market no later than the year 2019.”
It’s important to note at this point that Quanta does have other manufacturing clients, but Apple is by far its largest. Among other devices, Quanta helps assemble both MacBooks and Apple Watches.
At the earnings conference, Leung described the proposed device as a “headset-like gadget with a fully transparent lens that allows users to see through and interact with the environment.” That description is consistent with reports of Apple’s AR headset, and it pretty much rules out devices similar to the virtual reality (VR) headsets currently on the market.
Of course, that phrasing could apply to any AR-type headset or pair of glasses. Quanta’s comments could relate to the general idea of an AR device that it aims to build for any client in the next few years.
Other Apple AR Reports
But the timing lines up with other reports of Apple’s proposed AR timeline. According to analyst Jeffrey Pu with Taipei-based Yuanta Investment Consulting, Apple could field such a device by 2019. Supply chain reports also hint that Apple has recently tapped one of its metal and casing suppliers to help it produce the AR headsets or glasses.
Additionally, Bloomberg reported last week that Apple was working to introduce a “breakthrough” AR headset by 2020. While that’s a year later than these recent reports suggest, Bloomberg’s sources did say that Apple plans to have the tech ready by 2019.
That includes the AR headset itself, as well as a new operating system dubbed “rOS” that could be controlled by a mixture of touch controls, hand or head gestures and Siri. The operating system would be based on iOS, but would be its own fully-contained platform. In other words, it won’t need a connected iPhone to access its full functionality. Apple is also planning on launching a rOS version of the App Store, complete with a wide range of augmented reality apps from 360-degree video playback apps to AR navigation and texting software.
Apple’s AR ambitions haven’t exactly been secret, with CEO Tim Cook being pretty vocal about his vision for the tech. But these recent reports seem to indicate that we’ll be seeing a dedicated Apple AR headset within the next couple of years.