For Tim Cook, augmented reality is critical to Apple’s future. The company’s efforts in this area are evident, and we’ve been hearing rumours about Apple’s hypothetical virtual and augmented reality glasses for years.
New information coming from The Information now reveals that the first iteration of these glasses won’t be standalone: it will need an iPhone or another Apple device (such as an iPad) to work. The limited processor power will therefore make the glasses something like the Apple Watch (even in its LTE version): an accessory that loses a lot of its meaning without the iPhone.
According to sources close to the development of this device, the glasses will need to communicate wirelessly with a host device such as an iPhone, iPad or computer that can handle much of the computation that will be needed to display content on the glasses.
It appears that the chip embedded in the glasses will not be as powerful as Apple’s current chips and will not feature the Neural Engine that is used to accelerate tasks related to artificial intelligence calculations. That 5nm chip may already be a bit old by the time the glasses are launched.
It is possible that even if they depend on the iPhone for certain tasks, these glasses could function partially independently, like the Oculus Quest 2, for example. Even so, the dependence on the external device seems to be notable in this first iteration.
Rumour has it that the glasses will feature ultra-high-resolution displays, with talk of 8K displays in each eye, as well as high-resolution cameras to capture the outside world.
The Information reports that it could be quite some time before the glasses are available: although the physical design of the main chip, the display driver and the image sensor has been completed, there is still a lot of work to be done.
So the glasses could arrive in 2022 at the earliest, but they could come later. They would also come at a potentially high price of around $3,000, which would place them in a similar range to that of Microsoft’s HoloLens.