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As Apple’s augmented reality headset gets even closer to reality, we continue to see more information leaking out as to exactly how amazing the company’s debut AR device will truly be, and veteran analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is the latest to weigh in with a new series of predictions.
Right off the bat, Kuo has pegged a timeline of “mid-2022” for the arrival of the first headset, which is slightly later than his prediction earlier this year that we could see Apple’s first standalone augmented reality device by the end of this year.
To be fair, however, Kuo never said that this device would be an AR headset, but merely that Apple would be releasing “some kind of augmented reality device” this year. The fact that Kuo has generally been consistent with a 2022 timeline for the AR headset suggests that he could have been talking about something else entirely.
It’s also possible that Apple could announce the AR headset later this year with a mid-2022 availability date. There would definitely be a precedent for this, as, despite its reputation for holding new products close to the vest, it’s routinely pre-announced products that fall into entirely new categories. The original iPhone in 2007, the Apple Watch in 2014, and even the HomePod in 2017 were all classic examples of this.
Notably, however, while Kuo and other analysts and leakers now seem to be largely in lockstep regarding the release time for the AR headset, Kuo is now predicting that Apple’s AR glasses won’t make an appearance until 2025 — a couple of years later than what Apple was reportedly aiming for, and a timeline that makes one of last year’s leaks even more outrageous.
Still, those are both products that still have a much longer road to walk, so anything could happen between now and then. On the other hand, the AR headset is starting to sound more and more like a done deal, and it’s what Kuo has to say about this upcoming product that’s the most interesting.
Yes, you read that right. According to Kuo, Apple’s AR headset will feature more built-in cameras than just about any other product we’ve yet encountered.
While we already saw a report last month that the headset will pack in “more than a dozen cameras,” it looks like Kuo has not only put a more solid number to this, but he’s also offering up some insight into exactly what these camera modules are going to be used for.
According to a research note seen by MacRumors, eight of the camera modules will be used to power “see-through augmented reality experiences,” while six more will be used for “innovative biometrics.” The remaining camera will handle “environmental detection.”
Some of this aligns with what The Information shared last month, although that report was somewhat more vague, noting that the cameras would be used for “tracking hand movements.” This is presumably what Kuo is referring to with the term “innovative biometrics.”
Portable, But Not Mobile
Kuo also brings a few more details into focus on the headset’s overall design and technology, noting that while current prototypes weigh in at somewhere between 200 and 300 grams, Apple is currently working to get this weight down below the 200-gram mark, making it much lighter than most other VR headsets on the market, while still providing an “immersive experience that is significantly better than existing VR products.”
Notably, however, while the headset will be designed to be self-contained and portable, with Apple expected to pack in a new chip that outperforms the M1 chip, according to Kuo it won’t be completely mobile in its first iteration.
While it’s not entirely clear what he means by this, the implication is that although it will have independent computing power and storage, it will likely still need something like an iPhone nearby to interface with the outside world, much like early Apple Watch models.
However, this is still a far cry from the original idea that a standalone hub would be required—an approach that was vetoed years ago by Apple’s design chief, Jony Ive.
How Much Will It Cost?
Kuo also brings a slight ray of hope that the headset could in fact be more accessible to consumers, although it’s still not going to carry a price tag that’s for the faint of heart. Contrasting with last month’s report from The Information, which predicted a $3,000 price tag, Kuo believes that Apple’s first AR headset will be closer to the $1,000 mark.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]