Apple preparing to release AR headset in 2020

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With augmented reality, you aren't shut off from the world around you, but virtual elements can be overlaid on the real world.

Microsoft, of course, is already well ensconced in the AR/VR world, having launched a v1 HoloLens previous year as a $3,000 Developers Edition, and has talked about a HoloLens version 2, with built-in AI processing, but that device apparently won't ship until 2019. Apple hopes to be able to have the requisite technology to make its headset a reality by 2019 and then get it to customers soon after.

According to a Bloomberg source with inside connections, the company is aiming to have the tech ready by 2019 and to be ready to ship the product sometime in 2020, although nothing is set in concrete at this point. Instead, the company is working on designing a chip in-house.

According to Bloomberg, the chip powering the headset will be similar in concept to the "system-on-a-package" component in the Apple Watch, which can fit more components like graphics processors into a smaller area than standard processors, and consume less power. Earlier this year, Apple hired an accomplished VR and AR researcher named Doug Bowman from Virginia Tech, too.

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According to Bloomberg, the team building Apple's headset is also designing a processor that would power the device, as well as a new operating system it's now calling rOS, or "reality operating system".

Unlike current rival headsets from competitors, which tend to clip a smartphone into the headset, Apple's augmented-reality headset will be a standalone product that will have its own display, and will run on a new chip and operating system.

Details such as how users will control the headset are still being investigated.

Apple has already formed the engineering group tasked with making the AR headset a reality.

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The limitation today is that we have to hold our smartphone or tablet up to our face to experience AR. "There's virtual reality and there's augmented reality-both of these are incredibly interesting".

VR and AR headsets are beginning to proliferate in the market, but they mostly require another device.

"We believe AR is going to change the way we use technology forever" he said on the company's earnings conference call. Googles headset unlike Apples will focus on education and medical uses. In the build-up to this headset's launch, Apple will be improving the ARKit to make it easier for developers to create content.

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