Apple is said to ramp up work on augmented reality headset

Microsoft's HoloLens, for example, is available as a development kit, but we're still no closer to seeing the consumer version than we were when it was revealed two years ago. Now, the company is looking to the future, with plans to ready an augmented reality headset by 2019.

Mixed reality (MR) is a relatively newcomer to the technology field, though is usually filed alongside the related technologies of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

Apple isn't the only company working on this technology.

The benefits of that strategy may also manifest in the AR headset, with the new chip being similar to the "system-on-a-package" chip that now powers Apple Watch. This is part of a larger AR initiative which was kicked off by the development and the release of Apple's ARKit. Citing sources "familiar with the situation", the report notes that this headset will feature a brand new display and run on a new chip and fresh operating system instead of the iOS mobile platform that now runs ARKit.

But while we may have known of Apple's AR ambitions for quite a while, today's Bloomberg report unearths an interesting piece of information: a new operating system. To that end, Apple is reportedly still deciding how users will navigate the headset's UI and launch apps, "but is investigating touch panels, voice-activation via Siri and head gestures".

Apple engineers are said to be now prototyping a range of applications for use in AR, reportedly using HTC Vive headsets for testing them.

However, during his interview with The Independent, Cook said he wasn't concerned about "being first". The upcoming AR headset is expected to be a standalone product that won't need an iPhone in order to work. "Put simply, we believe AR is going to change the way we use technology forever".

As with previous products, Apple isn't waiting around for someone else to create a chip capable of powering its AR headset.

Apple will also likely play up the user experience-"bringing together technology in such a way that's interesting, useful and easy to use", Nguyen said. "Something that you would see out in the market any time soon would not be something that any of us would be satisfied with". Apple officially unveiled ARKit at its developer conference earlier this year, and has since integrated into iOS 11, the most recent version of its mobile operating system.

  • Valerie Cook