Apple employees who spoke to The Information described the device as offering mixed-reality experiences – a VR headset but with augmented reality features, such as with the popular Pokemon Go game, layered on top.
The dozen cameras that feature in the glasses mean it will be possible for the software to identify objects in the real world and integrate them within the AR landscape.
Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg described Apple’s augmented reality glasses as one of the reasons why the company was “one of our biggest competitors” in a recent call with investors.
He was more likely referring to Apple Glasses, however, which would be more focused on AR.
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More similar to Oculus Rift, the VR headset which is owned by Facebook, than Google Glass, Apple’s mixed-reality headset will completely occlude the wearer’s view of the world around them.
However the dozen cameras on the outside will feed 8K footage into the two displays, which will use eye-tracking technology to ensure the view remains realistic.
The eye-tracking feature will also help power the device by ensuring that details in the periphery of the user’s vision are rendered at a lower resolution than the objects they are looking at directly.
Two people who spoke to The Information explained that the wearer will also have a thimble-like device on their finger to assist with hand tracking and to help with controls.
Apple and Google have been showcasing AR tools available for iOS and Android smartphones since 2017, allowing developers to superimpose digital information on real world objects through people’s phones.
But the lack of developer tools available for Apple’s VR features has prompted some to suggest the launch of the mixed-reality headset may come much later than 2022, with Apple Glasses likely to launch earlier borrowing AR features from the iPhone and iPad.