From Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman: Apple Is Ramping Up Work on AR Headset to Succeed iPhone
Apple began putting together a team to work on AR-related projects a couple of years ago, Bloomberg reported in March. Led by Mike Rockwell, who previously ran engineering at Dolby Labs, the group has now grown to several hundred engineers from across Apple, the people said. Scattered across office parks in both Cupertino and Sunnyvale, California, the team is working on several hardware and software projects under the umbrella code name of “T288.”
The team’s first product was ARKit, tools that outside software developers use to create AR applications for the latest iPhones and iPads, leveraging their screens, cameras and processors to create virtual 3-D interfaces for online shopping, education and gaming. This was an interim step, giving Apple an opportunity to test the technology on an existing product.
The next step — creating a headset with a built-in display capable of streaming 3D video without draining the battery — is much more complicated. Cook acknowledged as much in a recent interview with The Independent, when he said: “Anything you would see on the market any time soon would not be something any of us would be satisfied with.” Referring to challenges creating displays, Chief Design Officer Jony Ive told a tech panel last month that “there are certain ideas that we have and we are waiting for the technology to catch up with the idea.”
My take: Lots of interesting new stuff here, including reports that Apple is building its own AR chip and has dubbed its new operating system rOS, for “reality operating system.” Describing the target device as an AR headset, however, seems unnecessarily obtuse. Today’s eyeglasses, for those who need them, are incredibly useful reality enhancing devices. Neil Cybart has just about persuaded me: Smarter glasses—powerful, stylish and rOS-ready as only Apple can make them—may be inevitable.