The biggest hurdles Apple’s AR headset and glasses need to overcome
Priya Wadhwa
10x Industry

The biggest hurdles Apple’s AR headset and glasses need to overcome

Apple plans for AR glasses long after Google discontinues them

I’m sure a lot of us remember Google Glass, those spectacles that allowed you to get messages directly on the screen, do Google searches, capture photographs, amongst other things. That was back in 2013. Wondering what happened to them? Well, Google discontinued them citing “reduced usage”.

Now, reports reveal that Apple is building its own Virtual Reality (VR) headset and has pushed back its launch from 2020 to 2022. Furthermore, following the VR headset launch, Apple will be launching its Augmented Reality (AR) glasses in 2023.

The Information cited unnamed sources confirming that Apple discussed timelines of the headset development, saying that they’ll reach out to developers for building software in 2021.

Bloomberg corroborated this development, saying that the AR/VR headset will be majorly focused towards “gaming, watching videos and virtual meetings,” which will be supported by its 3-D sensor camera system.

So far, the major hurdles with headsets for gaming and meetings have been the bulky headset, the lack of ability to see outside it, leading to potential accidents and unawareness of surroundings. Apple is trying to circumvent these issues by building a slimmer headset and external cameras that project the surroundings in the headset.

Apple is also experimenting with see-through glasses that could darken when in use, indicating to others that the person is occupied, as well as giving users the ability to be more aware of what’s happening around them.

However, the challenges that Google faced in 2013, most likely will still be faced by Apple, even though it is biding its time before launching.

Before I go into why and what its biggest hurdles will be, it’s important to remember that with iPhone innovations slowing, Apple, as well as other tech players in the market, will have to innovate and launch the next level of communication and content consumption devices.

But they are unlikely to be something as invasive as spectacles because of the following reasons:

  1. Do you wear glasses? If yes, do you like wearing them? Most people do not enjoy wearing glasses all the time, they do it out of necessity, and then get numbed to the idea of wearing them. Taking human nature into account, something that is as invasive into your personal space as glasses will take a long time to become normal and accepted by people. Google failed in 2013, and there are many lessons about human behaviour that are to be learnt from it.

  2. The headsets and glasses, even if they are more modern, are still inconvenient to the vision. Not only do they force our iris to dilate in order to focus on images on the screen so close to our eye, but they can create a constant state of anxiousness with notifications. Moreover, they reduce our control over when we choose to pick up our phone and interact with people.

Nevertheless, with plans already in place, and the meeting to discuss product development timelines, we would most likely see Apple’s inventions launch into the market. How it does, and what segments it caters to, is yet to be seen.

If it’s just for gaming, then it would indeed be a lovely piece of tech. But even if they are only for business meetings, it could make communication harder as the headset will not allow people to view each other’s facial expressions, restricting them from picking up communication cues.

Even so, we are curious to see how Apple positions and launches its AR and VR products.