Report: Apple Headset Running Both Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Scheduled for 2020

Apple’s long-rumored augmented reality headset will have virtual reality capabilities built in, too. It’s codenamed T288, and it’s currently scheduled to be released in 2020. While Augmented Reality, or AR, maps digital objects onto the real world, Virtual Reality, or VR, immerses users entirely in a digitally-generated environment.

The new detail came in a Friday report from CNET, which also included some very ambitious technical details of the project. The new information, if true, would be a major leak for the secretive company, with CNET citing unnamed sources and Apple so far declining to comment on the news. But, aside from the addition of VR, it seems to confirm similar reports dating back at least to November of last year.

Some commenters with insight on hardware development have said creating a device with the specs laid out in the report would require Apple to push the limits of its engineering capabilities. Those specs include dual screens running at 8K resolution, connected wirelessly to a box with processors well ahead of anything on the market today.

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Those details, and the release timeline itself, are subject to change even if they’re true to Apple’s current plans. But it seems nearly certain there will be an Apple AR headset sometime, since Apple has made its move into AR about as clear as the reticent company makes anything. On an earnings call in November, for instance, CEO Tim Cook referred to AR as a technology that “will transform the way you work, play, connect, and learn.”

That seems in part to be a reference to AR’s potential to enhance productivity by transforming a wearer’s entire field of view into a virtual workspace. Such engaged, creative applications may help make AR more successful than VR, which, despite raves from dedicated gamers, hasn’t turned into a huge consumer category. AR, even in primitive forms such as the mobile phone game Pokemon Go, has had much broader adoption, pointing to even bigger potential as hardware advances. And since AR and VR have substantial technical overlap, combining them might add up to a more appealing product with little extra overhead.

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