How Apple’s RealityOne mixed reality headset will work

Apple’s long-awaited $3,000 mixed reality headset will offer a 3D version of iOS, show immersive, interactive video content such as concerts and sports, play games, and enable one-on-one and group FaceTime calling, among countless other uses.

Apple VR/AR headset concept by Antonio DeRosa

Mark Gurman for Bloomberg News:

The eye- and hand-tracking abilities will be a key selling point for the device, which is expected to cost about twice as much as competing devices, according to people familiar with the product. Core features include advanced FaceTime-based video conferencing and meeting rooms.

The headset will also be able to display immersive video content, act as an external display for a connected Mac, and replicate many iPhone and iPad features.
Here’s how it will work: The headset has multiple external cameras that can analyze a user’s hands, as well as sensors within the device’s body to read eyes. This allows the wearer to control the device by looking at an item on the screen – whether it’s a button, an app icon, or a list item – to select it.

Users will then pinch their thumb and forefinger together to activate the task — without having to hold anything. The approach differs from other headsets, which typically rely on hand controls.

The headset features two ultra-high-resolution displays – developed with Sony Group Corp. – Have VR handling and a collection of external cameras to enable an AR “pass through” mode. This means users see the real world through the cameras positioned on the headset. Apple will offer prescription eyewear users custom lenses that sit within the housing itself.

MacDaily News Take: In May 2020, Apple confirmed its acquisition of NextVR, a startup offering sports and other content for virtual reality headsets, which at the time had deals with major sports leagues like the National Basketball Association and entertainment networks like Fox Sports. NextVR technology supports live streaming in virtual reality: think sports, live concerts and more.

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Gurman further:

The device will also have productivity features, including the ability to serve as an external monitor for a Mac. With this feature, users can see their Mac’s display in virtual reality, but still control the computer with their trackpad or mouse and physical keyboard.

The headset’s operating system, called xrOS internally, will have many of the same features as an iPhone and iPad, but in a 3D environment. This includes the Safari web browser, Photos, Mail, Messages, and the Calendar app. And there will also be apps for the company’s services, such as the App Store to install third-party software, Apple TV+, music and podcasts. The company is also working on health tracking features.

MacDaily News Take: VR is pretty self-explanatory. They immerse themselves in games, personal computing, and other content. Speaking of AR:

The problem with AR right now is the delivery devices. iPhone and iPad are subpar AR delivery devices. We need lightweight, stylish eyewear that just works. Then AR development will take off and AR killer apps will be born.

For example, as trite as it may be, you want to fix a leaking shower without calling a plumber. Today you need to use your iPad, iPhone or MacBook to watch and follow a video to see how to pull out the old shower valve cartridge and install a replacement. Imagine having that information right in front of your eyes as you work. Pause when you say “pause” and inform when you say “next step.” Now you’re basically extrapolating that experience everything. – MacDaily News, May 15, 2020

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