December 2, 2023

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Apple’s Reality Pro headset can make augmented reality awesome

Apple’s Reality Pro headset can make augmented reality awesome

As Apple prepares for the long-rumored leap into augmented reality on Monday, skepticism is clouding every step of the way. There are reports of frequent changes in direction and Doubts within Apple’s ranks. The device was allegedly difficult to manufacture and required many compromises. The process took years longer than Apple expected. According to rumors of $ 3,000, Apple expects slow sales in the short term.

But among augmented reality specialists, the mood is elated. “This is the greatest thing that can happen to the industry,” says Jay Wright, CEO of virtual/augmented reality collaboration platform Campfire 3D. “Whether you’re making hardware or software. We’re excited about that.”

No industry needs Apple’s “it just works” ethos like AR

Based on Positive reviews Industry leaders like Palmer Luckey, makers of AR hardware and software say Apple can finally check out a decade of attempts to popularize the technology. Some of that optimism is driven by rumored Apple specs, including a lightweight design and unusually high-spec screen.

Supporters point to Apple’s history of entering the market once other companies have laid the groundwork, as they have done with phones. But a large part of it can be summed up in two statements: Apple can sell hardware, while Apple can sell it amazing.

There is no technical category that needs to beIt just worksHe promised more than augmented reality. (This format is sometimes called “mixed reality” or “XR,” just to emphasize how cluttered the consumer presentation is.) SteamVR, the Quest store, and a widely used control system.

AR has no such guarantees.

Their devices are very diverse, from bulky headphones with sophisticated tracking to smart glasses that do little more than display alerts. Its software is often geared toward highly specialized commercial uses. There is no stable consensus about control schemes.

According to several leaks, Apple’s headset uses what is called an AR “passthrough”. They feature high-resolution screens and are capable of running full VR apps, but they’re also studded with cameras that can pass through a high-resolution image of the real world—and, according to rumors, you’ll press a “Reality Dial” to switch between AR and VR. This means that it can present an illusion of a real world with virtual objects superimposed on it.

Transit avoids some of the problems that augmented reality glasses like the Magic Leap and Microsoft HoloLens have, such as translucent virtual objects and a limited field of view. Meta, the largest player in consumer headphones, opted for the Quest Pro’s design style last year. But the Quest Pro had a grainy, washed-out video feed and offered limited practical applications for its AR mode. A virtual office, for example, requires a complex sync process with your Mac or PC. And the Meta overall has been focused on the lower end of the VR and AR market — it also includes crossover as a selling point on the upcoming $499 Quest 3.

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By contrast, many people have speculated that the Apple Headset could be like a Tesla Roadster: a flashy, expensive sports car that sells people the concept of electric cars. “Apple makes devices in a way that is useful, comfortable for people, and makes them care about them,” says Jacob Lowenstein, senior vice president of 3D social media platform Spatial, which has appeared on several augmented and virtual reality devices.

“There’s going to be a lot of trash out there, and there’s going to be some pretty cool stuff, too.”

The exact uses of the rumored Apple technology are not yet known. CEO Tim Cook said that augmented reality is for “communication” and “connection,” and it will reportedly have FaceTime capability that can render a person’s face and body. that it He said to submit too Access iPad apps, games, and entertainment via the Apple TV app and Apple Fitness Plus. “One of the reasons I think Apple has been so successful with many of their projects is because they’re not just launching a device, they’re launching an ecosystem,” says Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen, who covers the VR/AR market. It’s the combination of different applications applied to different use cases for different users – that’s the ‘killer app’.

Apple reportedly doesn’t anticipate a large early market for the device — it’s revised its forecast to less than 1 million units per year, compared to 200 million iPhones or more. However, despite the device’s rumored cost, some are predicting a gold rush for app designers trying to replicate the success of early iPhone developers. “I was like, ‘Wait, why don’t I make a goofy version of some of the apps that everyone loves — like being one of the first apps to do on an Apple headset?'” says Gabe Baker, Vice President of Browser-based Virtual Reality Collaboration Platform Framework. “There’s going to be a lot of junk in there, and there’s going to be some cool stuff too — it’s going to be a good time.”

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Apple has an ambivalent relationship with web developers, who make up a niche but notable subset of the AR/VR industry. Safari is seriously delayed Support for WebXR, a popular standard for immersive browser-based experiences, on iOS. But the browser is said to be running on its own headset, which will put augmented reality on the web in the spotlight. “We’re cautiously optimistic that Apple will actually make Safari a viable app on their upcoming devices,” says Baker. “The Meta has shown that a web browser can actually be a vehicle for high-quality immersive content, without hands-on interference, and I think Apple is going to want that on their headphones.”

The iPhone’s more than a decade-long dominance showed a lot of the downsides of “it just works.” Apple has mastered its walled garden, and many app developers who work within it aren’t happy with the results. He’s spent years fighting some high-profile developers like Epic and Match Group in court, and others have testified in Congress about their apps being shut down and undermined by Apple imitators.

Apple is still pushing the field to outperform some of the biggest companies in technology

But for AR and VR developers, the alternative to Apple’s walled garden could be desert. Many applications – especially non-gaming ones – have centered on traditional computing hardware as one headset after another has failed to capture the consumer market. The main exception was Meta, which defied expectations with Quest 2 for VR. This raised the opposite problem: a system where some developers and regulators worried that Meta might monopolize the nascent industry, and some competing hardware companies resented Quest’s low, ad-supported pricing.

“I think the other compelling thing is the arms race that’s starting between the Meta and Apple. We’ve never really had these two giants go head-to-head before on a new platform,” Loewenstein says. Even for device makers, Apple’s entry isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The market for augmented reality glasses is small enough that it would welcome any new interest in the space.

Despite the excitement within the industry, Apple is still pushing for an edge over some of the biggest companies in technology. Google and Microsoft have both introduced AR headsets with flashy, consumer-friendly apps (in Microsoft’s case, an AR version of Maine Craft) only to end up with a less ambitious enterprise-focused product. So did the generously funded startup Magic Leap.

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Moreover, few people seem to think that going through augmented reality is an end point for the medium. As Nguyen points out, the headset poses a primary safety risk compared to a more glasses-like system: If the video feed stutters or goes dark, it temporarily blinds the user. This makes its use outside of a controlled home or office environment risky. “I see the Apple device as a replacement for my iMac,” says Nima Shams, VP of DigiLens, the longtime optics maker of glass-style headphones. “I don’t see the device as a replacement for my iPhone.” Apple is said to be working on a transparent, pass-through headset as well — but that’s not what anyone expects to see on Monday.

There are realistic reasons to believe that Apple is in a better position than these companies. For one thing, technology he have It has matured significantly since Google began testing Glass in 2012, Microsoft announced HoloLens in 2015, and Magic Leap unveiled its first product in 2018. Apple, on the other hand, has a proven track record for consumer devices that no other company can match. . This includes not only industrial design and carefully produced interfaces like trackpads, but in recent years, its fairly powerful chips. “If we’re running into rumors of a similar headset made by someone who isn’t Apple, I don’t think it’s going to be that successful,” says IDC Director of Research Jitesh Ubrani. “Apple has massive scale, huge developer support, huge consumer support — and nobody comes close to that.”

But the most emotionally compelling argument is simply that Apple can make weird-looking products — like the AirPods, compared to everything from Q-tips for sperm Socially acceptable. As Lowenstein puts it, “The key has always been very, very simple: Is this thing useful? Is this thing comfortable? Headphones to CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s legless avatar. “I think Apple has a cool factor.”

And if not? Well, if you’ve been stuck in the world of consumer AR for the long haul, you can probably deal with the disappointment.