Apple has entered the first year of AR/VR, what are the highlights of the rumored new “Reality Pro”? | TechNews Technology News

Since the release of the Apple Watch in 2015, Apple has not launched new products for new areas. The long-rumored mixed reality head-mounted device “Reality Pro” will be launched this year, which is expected to shake the VR industry currently dominated by Meta.

Mark Gurman, a Bloomberg reporter who is familiar with Apple, revealed that Apple is expected to launch a mixed-reality headset called “Reality Pro” later this year, which uses novel methods to help users conduct virtual video conferences and watch immersive videos. It can stand out from competing products such as Meta because it has eye and hand tracking system as the main selling point.

Digital Crown one-click switching VR / AR mode

The Reality Pro has several external lenses that analyze the user’s hand movements and internal sensors that track the eye. Users not only view items on the device’s screen, but also activate various functions by pinching the thumb and index finger instead of using physical controllers. .

Reality Pro has VR and AR modes. Users can see virtual images and content on the display through VR. As for AR, it superimposes virtual content on the real environment. The Reality Pro will have two ultra-high-resolution displays developed by Sony for displaying VR content, or with external lenses to enable AR pass-through mode.

Reality Pro and Digital Crown can be switched between VR and AR. Users are immersed in the VR experience. Once switched to AR, the virtual content will gradually fade out and be surrounded by the external real environment. Apple believes this will be a highlight of Reality Pro and is keeping it under wraps, according to people familiar with the matter.

▲ Apple has developed AR technology for many years, which can superimpose virtual content in the real environment. (Source: Science and Technology News)

Continuing iPhone experience and upgrading video service

The operating system of Reality Pro, called xrOS internally by Apple, has many of the same functions and experiences as iPhone and iPad, such as Safari, email, message, calendar, photo and other apps, and provides App Store, Apple TV+, Podcast, music, etc. Serve. When users need to enter text, they can use Siri voice input, and Apple is also developing new technology that allows users to type with their hands in the air, but it may not be ready by the time the product launches.

Reality Pro can also be turned into an external display for a Mac computer, and can also control the computer with a touchpad, mouse, and keyboard.

Reality Pro provides an advanced video conferencing service based on FaceTime. It simulates the user’s face and body in VR mode. Two people wearing Reality Pro at the same time can communicate virtually, as if they were in the same room. Due to the processing power required for this feature, photorealistic avatars are only supported during one-on-one video calls. When multiple people have a FaceTime video, the user’s avatar will display a photo or Memoji.

▲ The FaceTime video function will be upgraded with Reality Pro. (Source: Apple)

Watching immersive movies is also a core feature of Reality Pro. In addition to acquiring the streaming media company NextVR in 2020, Apple is also discussing the development of VR content for new platforms with six partners including Disney and Dolby Laboratories. At the same time, it is working hard to update its own Apple TV+ material, which can be used with Reality Pro . In addition, third-party developers will design VR games for Reality Pro, and Apple has built an underlying engine to provide support for VR games.

Separate the battery to solve the problem of overheating and overweight

The Reality Pro will include a similar version of Apple’s M2 chip, as well as a dedicated processor for graphics and mixed reality. According to a trademark application filed by Apple, the dedicated processor will be called the Reality processor.

However, the powerful processor brings another problem: Wearing the Reality Pro may overheat. To solve this problem, Apple decided to separate the battery from the headset, which can be placed in the user’s pocket and connected by a cable. Another adjustment is to add a cooling fan.

The Reality Pro battery life lasts for about 2 hours and is charged via USB-C, but the entire battery pack is not small, equivalent to the size of two iPhone 14 Pro Max stacked together. In contrast, the Meta tucks the battery into the back of the headset while achieving a balanced fit. If Apple did the same, it would make the entire headset bulky and uncomfortable to wear.

▲ The Meta Quest Pro battery is placed behind the head, so it won’t be too heavy on the front side when worn. (Source: Meta)

According to people familiar with the matter, Apple plans to announce the product as early as this spring, although the specific timetable is still subject to change. The company hopes to discuss the product at the WWDC developer conference in June and launch it later this year. . An Apple spokesperson declined to comment on the product, given that the headset is still some time away from its official release and some features may change or be removed.

Meta has lost billions of dollars developing VR and metaverse, which shows that this is still a difficult challenge for large technology companies. Apple plans to enter this market with high unit price products with uncertain prospects. With a development team of more than 1,000 people, it has invested more than 7 years in this project. It is expected to sell 1 million units in the first year. It does not aim at profit, but rather It is a long-term plan to gradually gain a firm foothold in this market.

(First image source: Apple)

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