Apple’s AR Headset Problems Get Highlighted in Latest Report, Which Go Back Seven Years


Development of Apple’s AR headset commenced in 2015, and from there on, it was anything but smooth. It will be the company’s first iteration in a brand new and niche market, with a fresh report talking about the slew of challenges Apple and its team faced.

Early Prototype of Apple’s AR Headset Was so Heavy, It Required a Crane to Hold It in Place to Prevent Neck Strain

The paywalled report published by The Information and spotted by 9to5Mac notes that 10 people close to the AR headset project were spoken to and talked about early prototypes. These units either ran Windows or were altered versions of the HTC Vive and other headsets. According to one individual, one unit was so bulky that a small crane was needed to prevent unnecessary neck strain on the wearer.

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Since Facebook was also reported to be developing a standalone headset, Apple decided to pour more funding into its project to get into this space. Additionally, as the statement below claims, technical factors were the biggest reason why the headset kept getting delayed, among others.

“Technical challenges have been the biggest factor in the delays, as has been the case in the past for Apple’s most ambitious new products, such as the iPhone. But the Apple smartphone also had a singularly influential figure in Apple co-founder Steve Jobs to midwife it.

While Apple’s current CEO, Tim Cook, supports the headset project, he hasn’t been as active in the effort as Jobs was with the iPhone’s development, according to five people familiar with the project. For example, he rarely visits the group at its offices away from the main Apple campus, those people said. The lack of a honcho of Cook’s stature to champion the headset, code-named N301, has made it harder at times for it to compete with other products such as the Mac and iPhone for head count and engineering resources, the people said.”

The second challenge came from former Apple design head Jony Ive and his group, who believed that a consumer AR headset would not do well with customers.

“Rockwell, Meier and Rothkopf soon encountered pushback from Ive’s team. The three men had initially wanted to build a VR headset, but Ive’s group had concerns about the technology, said three people who worked on the project. They believed VR alienated users from other people by cutting them off from the outside world, made users look unfashionable and lacked practical uses. Apple’s industrial designers were unconvinced that consumers would be willing to wear headsets for long periods of time, two of the people said.”

With so many problems and challenges at hand, the opposing views of various teams stationed at Apple finally made way for a mixed reality headset, a device that would project both AR and VR content.

“The men came up with a solution to address the concerns of Ive’s team. For example, they proposed adding cameras to the front of the headset so that people wearing the device could see their surroundings, said the three people. But the feature that ultimately sold the industrial designers on the project was a concept for an outward-facing screen on the headset. The screen could display video images of the eyes and facial expressions of the person wearing the headset to other people in the room.

These features addressed the industrial design group’s worries about VR-induced alienation—they allowed other people in a room to interact and collaborate with a person wearing a headset in a way not possible with other VR gear. For years, the existence of such a display, internally code-named T429, was known only to a small circle of people even within Rockwell’s group.”

Unfortunately, even now, Apple’s rumored AR headset is rife with problems, ranging from overheating and software, to name a few. Even then, the ambitious product is said to grow with popularity shortly after its predicted launch in 2023, though it could an expensive purchase for customers, with one report claiming it could cost a whopping $3,000. However, another claim is more conservative on the pricing, stating it will cost the consumer $1,000.

Even then, paying a four-figure sum for a product that is not necessarily a daily driver for customers may not be an easy sell for Apple, but we will still see what this AR headset is all about when it officially launches.

News Source: The Information