Apple is facing technical challenges with its augmented reality (AR) glasses and has delayed the release of the product indefinitely. The company had originally planned to launch the AR glasses a year after its mixed-reality headset, which combines both AR and virtual reality (VR). However, due to these technical difficulties, Apple has put the AR glasses on hold and shifted its focus to a more affordable mixed-reality headset. The company plans to release the lower-cost version of the mixed-reality headset as early as 2024 or 2025.
Apple’s change in plans highlights the difficulties the company is facing as it ventures into the AR and VR market. Despite its belief that these devices have the potential to generate significant revenue, the technical obstacles involved in creating a user-friendly product have proven to be a major challenge for the tech industry as a whole. The company’s original goal of releasing a comfortable, lightweight pair of AR glasses that could be worn all day now seems to be delayed for several years, if it ever happens.
The VR market is currently dominated by Facebook’s Meta Platforms, which offers a more immersive experience, allowing people to play games, attend virtual meetings, and watch videos. On the other hand, AR glasses overlay digital information and visuals on the real-world view, with the goal for users to wear them in their daily lives, but earlier attempts like Google Glass did not gain widespread acceptance.
The high cost of the mixed-reality device that Apple plans to release this year, which is around $3,000, could limit its appeal to a niche market. The cost is driven by the use of advanced, high-resolution displays, over 10 cameras, sensors to detect where the user is looking, as well as a Mac-grade M2 processor and a dedicated chip for handling AR and VR visuals. To lower the cost of the follow-up mixed-reality device, Apple plans to use chips that are similar to those found in the iPhone, rather than the high-end components used in Mac computers. The company aims to compete with Meta’s mixed-reality headset, which costs $1,500, by striving for a price point closer to this with its lower-end model.
Apple’s trademark filings suggest a dual device strategy, with names such as “Reality Pro” and “Reality One” appearing in the documents. The name “Pro” suggests the initial model, while the “One” suffix could be under consideration for a more affordable version. Additionally, there is a trademark filing for “Reality Processor,” which could be the name for the dedicated chip. An Apple spokesperson declined to comment on the company’s plans.