New leaks on the features of Apple’s upcoming mixed reality headset

New year, new leaks about the mixed reality headset in the works Apple. And as often, these come from specialized media information. Dated January 3, the article details a host of technical features and functionalities of the product, which would now be in advanced validation stages awaiting a launch this year (after another delay).

Its design would still be close to that revealed in February 2021 (again by The Information), that is, very thin and close to the face, somewhat similar to a ski mask. Apple would mostly use premium materials like aluminum, glass and carbon fiber to keep weight to a minimum.

An external battery, like Magic Leap

The battery would also be in the remote and carried on the belt, connected to the helmet by a cable with a magnetic MagSafe type connector. A decision that may surprise coming from Apple and that would not a priori be the first choice, but more of a necessity to guarantee as much smoothness as possible at the level of the face. Battery life wouldn’t exceed two hours, but that wouldn’t be too much of a concern since it would be replaceable.

Several attachment systems have been designed, including one made from the same material as the “sporty” Apple Watch bands. However, the final system will not be interchangeable. It would include speakers, as usual for these devices, and would be made to be used with AirPods Pro thanks in particular to the integration of an H2 chip for a very low-latency connection. On the other hand, wireless headphones from other brands would not be compatible, nor would wired headphones.

4K for eyes, 120° field of view

The helmet would use two Micro OLED displays with a resolution of 4K per eye and these would be manufactured by sony (note that Sony does not use screens of this type in its upcoming headset, the PSVR 2). Its field of view would be 120° and it would have cameras to track gaze and do foveal rendering to reduce the computing power needed to display all those pixels. The adjustment of the interpupillary distance would be done automatically, by motorizing the lenses. Magnetically attached vision correction lenses would be available as an option.

More than a dozen other sensors will be used to track facial expressions and body movements (arms, hands, legs), Apple would favor interaction with hands and voice instead of using game controllers. And on the front of the helmet, other sensors will be placed to map the environment and allow the helmet to find its way around, including some lidars. It’s not hard to imagine, Apple has a lead in this field thanks to its smartphones.

A dedicated ISP chip to reduce screen lag

Computing power will be provided by two chips: a system-on-a-chip that combines CPU, GPU, HBM memory and others, and an ISP chip dedicated to image processing, whose role would be to merge images from cameras different and correct the distortion before displaying the result to the user. Having a dedicated chip would reduce the delay in displaying images. Both components would be etched at 5 nm.

The device is firmly designed for mixed reality (the possibility of switching from a “virtual reality” mode in a 100% digital environment to an “augmented reality” mode, where we perceive what surrounds us), a wheel of the type “Digital “. Crown” of the Apple Watch will allow you to easily switch from one mode to another. In addition, there would also be a low-power display on the front of the helmet that would reproduce the user’s facial expressions, a trick to reduce the sense of isolation that VR helmets cause in some people.

Games would not be a priority

As mentioned above, the device would not be accompanied a priori by controllers, even if Apple has tested some internally, and video games would not be among its main uses. Instead, the company would have focused on communicating through avatars with expressions very faithful to those of users. However, some “classic” virtual reality apps would be compatible thanks to a partnership with Unity. Other use cases have also been developed such as using a 3D map and classic 2D iOS apps would also be compatible with the device.

As rumors had indicated in the past, the price of the headset would still be around $3,000.

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