Apple’s foray into the world of augmented and virtual reality has been long-awaited, and recently, more details have leaked about their first smart glasses. The headset will be capable of switching between augmented and virtual reality, and users can control it with a range of gestures, including pinching. Additionally, the glasses can serve as a screen for a Mac computer.
Although Apple has reportedly slowed down plans for a smaller AR headset, the company still plans to release a mixed reality headset this year. This type of headset combines virtual and augmented reality features, and Bloomberg spoke with individuals who have already tried the device. They were particularly impressed by the sensors that allow users to control the headset with hand and eye movements.
The glasses have several external cameras that analyze the user’s hands, as well as sensors in the casing that read the user’s eyes. Users can control the device by looking at items on the screen, such as a button, app icon, or item in a list, to select it. Then, users can activate the task by pinching with their thumb and forefinger without having to hold anything.
Apple has chosen a different approach than other AR or VR glasses that are typically controlled with hand-held controllers. Some glasses also have touch controls on the glasses or headset itself. Apple has opted to use its Digital Crown, a rotating wheel also found on the Apple Watch and AirPods Max, to switch between VR and AR on the glasses.
Virtual reality users see only a completely virtual world, while augmented reality users see the real world through transparent glasses or cameras mounted outside the glasses, augmented with virtual objects. The ability to switch between these two options is expected to be a highlight of Apple’s glasses.
The glasses will consume a considerable amount of energy and therefore will operate on an external battery. The battery is said to last for two hours and will be connected to the glasses via a cord and stored in the user’s back pocket, for example. The battery is roughly the size of “two iPhone Pro Max models on top of each other” and about 15 centimeters tall and 1.5 centimeters thick.
The glasses can also function as an external screen for a Mac computer, with users seeing a virtual screen floating in front of them and controlling it with their regular mouse and keyboard. Additionally, Apple is working on a method for typing in the air as an alternative to dictation via Siri.
Apple is also collaborating with companies such as Disney and Dolby to create a range of immersive video experiences and gaming opportunities. Users can watch movies on a large virtual screen in a different environment, such as the middle of the desert.