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Apple Reality Pro – an amazing AR future is near

The wait is nearly over…

Apple Reality Pro - the wait is over

A long time in the making

This time next week we will have seen it! Apple Reality Pro – the much-anticipated headset will have been revealed at WWDC.

10 a.m. PT Monday 5th June could very well go down as a big day in tech history. Over ten years in the making and the building excitement is palpable.

Reality Pro, or Apple Vision will cost around $3000 and will almost certainly lose money for Apple – but they are ready for the hit on what has now become a passion project. Apple sees the primary uses for the headset as being gaming, entertainment and collaboration. The device will also focus on health, fitness and wellbeing. Unlike Meta, Apple is primed to make instant strides in the mixed-reality arena because of their existing infrastructure.

They already have their TV+ platform which is now well established and have been actively buying more and more into live sports over recent years – and now you know why – AR and live sports are a match made in heaven! Apple Music will also be given a new lease of life too with live and interactive concerts being part of the longer-term plan. And don’t overlook Apple Fitness – AR workouts could be insane – assuming the headset is lightweight enough to be worn while working out.

So, in what will be the last article I write about Reality Pro until after the event here is everything that renders genius Marcus Kane (Hyperware) has been busy updating me about.

Here it is – all the very latest details…

The hardware

Originally the Reality Pro project was supposed to have been more along the lines of a pair of lightweight glasses but as AR technology has yet to catch up, next Monday what we expect to see is a pair of light goggles that resemble slimline ski goggles – and they will be light at just under 300 grams which means they’ll be lighter than a pair of AirPods Max. The weight will be kept to a minimum in part because the power will be coming from a tethered hip (or shoulder) mounted power pack which will connect via a magnetic-type connector.

The panels will be amazing. The Sony mini LED-backlit micro OLED panels will be 4K per eye and will have custom Pancake optics, a 120˚ field of vision, 4000 PPI and be very bright – we’re expecting 5000 nits! The lenses will have 30 pixels per degree (PPD) half that of the human eye but Reality Pro with 60 PPD is already being developed – which will represent the full human resolution within their F.O.V.

These high-end panels will have an electro-mechanical adjustment for the interpupillary distance (IPD) motors that will measure the distance between the centres of your eyes and will auto-calibrate the position of the lenses every time you put them on. We think the panels may be AMOLED curved screens which offer a much quicker refresh rate and may even use lightfield technology helping the lenses to capture light as realistically as possible.

The brains

Apple’s Reality Pro will come with two chips – an M2 chip (and I’ll explain why that’s important later) and an A17 Bionic chip which will mainly be used for sensor management. The headset will be crammed with fourteen cameras and sensors and will use LIDAR scanning for tracking movement. Your face and mouth will be tracked and combined with some element of machine learning to bring a front image to the device. This technology will give a pass-through effect which will give the impression of the headset being hollow and as if able to see the user’s eyes.

That external battery pack I mentioned should be able to give about two hours of use and will be roughly the size and weight of an iPhone 14 Pro Max. Importantly to enable continuous use, the battery pack will be able to be ‘hot swapped’.

Another consideration for moving the power pack away from the head was also that of heat – but even so, we still expect Reality Pro to have onboard active cooling as well – those panels are going to chuck out some serious heat.

The design of the headband will be similar to an Apple Watch band and would suggest it should be comfortable enough for prolonged even all-day use.

Whilst Apple is already working on a dedicated controller for the headset initially the input will come from hand, eye and voice tracking. There will be a USB-C port on Reality Pro which will mainly be there for firmware updates and possibly even allow for use with Windows machines too – although the chance of that happening is pretty remote!

There will be a digital crown much like that found on AirPods Max or Watch Ultra that will easily take you in and out of AR/VR and the real world.

Software

After all the patents that have been filed by Apple, we think the platform that Reality Pro will run will be called xrOS.

The software experience will connect across all your Apple devices via their mesh network. This should mean that you’ll be able to utilise your MacBook and external monitors with Reality Pro. FaceTime is expected to get a major facelift for the headset with a highly realistic, lifelike 3D presence. Virtual in-person meetings are about to take a massive leap forward.

Apple is working on using the framework from iPadOS which should mean that you’ll be able to use a 2.5D version of all existing iPad apps from the get-go.

Safari will be optimised for the Reality Pro experience as will all the core native iPad apps including Calendar, Mail, Files, Maps, Notes, iMessage and Photos. Developers will be encouraged to start working as soon as possible on new 3D apps for Reality Pro.

And with Apple having decided to use an M2 chip as the primary chip in Reality Pro that will mean that there are enough devices across all platforms to encourage studios to make AAA games for Apple – a first!

The future

This first version of Reality Pro will be just that – a pro version. It will be an all-singing and dancing version with every conceivable feature on it. The price will reflect that as I mentioned, and Apple expects not to make money on this first iteration – it’ll a loss leader.

Whilst the idea of AR glasses may still be years away, Apple is expected to release a non-pro and thus cheaper version of Reality Pro which will be a more mass-market device.

Wrapping up

Chatting with Marcus yesterday for a video that will be out over the weekend, the possibilities seem almost endless of where the AR future could take us.

In the depths of a cold snowy winter here, why not be whisked away to warmer climes and workout with the trainers in sunny L.A.? Why sit at home watching The Lakers when you could be in the arena and even talking to another fan next to you?

Apple Music could easily sell premium tickets for gigs too. Not only could you have the best seats in the house, but possibly even backstage access, tour bus access or even be in the dressing room. And movies on Apple TV+ are set to become an immersive, room-filling experience too.

By this time next week, everything could have changed. I know we won’t be able to buy a pair until later this year or early next, but next Monday at Apple’s WWDC keynote our minds could easily be blown – and this is just the start.

With the possibility of new Macs being announced, iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS and the next macOS being unveiled and the headset, this keynote could be one of the longest ever – well over two hours. I can’t think of one other year when Logic & Final Cut coming to iPad would’ve been announced by a press release. This event is going to be crammed.

Will the headset be first out of the gate or the famous ‘one more thing moment’ towards the end – who knows? All I do know is that I will be there for every moment of it.

The build-up has been long – but the wait is nearly over.

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