Apple plans to release its long-rumored mixed reality headset “in mid-2022,” followed by augmented reality glasses by 2025, well-regarded analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note with TF International Securities, obtained by MacRumors.
“We predict that Apple’s MR/AR product roadmap includes three phases: helmet type by 2022, glasses type by 2025, and contact lens type by 2030–2040,” wrote Kuo. “We foresee that the helmet product will provide AR and VR experiences, while glasses and contact lens types of products are more likely to focus on AR applications.”
Kuo said several prototypes of Apple’s mixed reality headset currently weigh 200–300 grams, but he said that the final weight will be reduced to 100–200 grams if Apple can solve technical problems, which would be significantly lighter than many existing VR devices. Due to a complex design, Kuo expects the headset to be priced around $1,000 in the United States, in line with the price of a “high-end iPhone.”
In line with a previous rumor, Kuo said the headset will be equipped with Sony’s Micro-OLED displays and several optical modules to provide a “see-through AR experience,” adding that the headset can “also offer a VR experience.”
Kuo said the headset will be “portable,” with independent computing power and storage, but not truly “mobile” like an iPhone. “When the technology improves, we believe that the new helmet product can also enhance its mobility,” he said.
Kuo believes Apple’s headset has the potential to provide an “immersive experience that is significantly better than existing VR products.”
Last month, The Information reported that the headset will be equipped with more than a dozen cameras for tracking hand movements, along with two ultra-high-resolution 8K displays and advanced eye-tracking technology. The cameras would be able to pass video of the real world through the visor and display it to the user.
“Although Apple has been focusing on AR, we think the hardware specifications of this product can provide an immersive experience that is significantly better than existing VR products. We believe that Apple may highly integrate this helmet with video-related applications (e.g., Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, etc.) as one of the key selling points.”
As for Apple’s augmented reality glasses, Kuo expects a launch in 2025 at the earliest, and he believes there is “no prototype yet.”
Kuo said the glasses will provide an “optical see-through AR experience,” and will be positioned as more of a “mobile” product than the mixed reality headset. “While the helmet provides a great immersive experience, the glasses focus more on providing a ‘mobile + AR’ experience,” he said. Kuo is looking forward to the Apple Glasses integrating with the long-rumored Apple Car, which is likely several years away.
Last, Kuo looked far into the future and predicted that Apple will launch “contact lenses” at some point after 2030. He said this product will bring electronics from the era of “visible computing” to “invisible computing,” but offered no further details.
Apple is highly committed to mixed reality/augmented reality technologies, according to Kuo, who has a “positive view” about Apple’s future in the space. Kuo said primary supply chain beneficiaries of the headset include Sony (exclusive display supplier), Pegatron (exclusive EMS), and suppliers related to optical components.