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Apple Heavily Experimenting With Augmented Reality Hardware, Including Glasses

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As Apple invests heavily in augmented reality, the company is still debating on the direction of future AR hardware. As a result there are reportedly multiple competing projects being developed internally.

Citing sources familiar with the efforts, the Financial Times reported on Friday that AR glasses have become “a particular area of experimentation” within the company.

While some Apple AR glasses in development use their own integrated displays to merge the real world with a virtual one, other approaches are akin to Samsung Gear VR, which uses a Samsung Galaxy handset for a virtual reality display.

Friday’s report revealed that one team of Apple engineers have advocated for a pair of glasses featuring 3D cameras but no screens, instead relying on an iPhone as the primary display. This approach may actually be a very reasonable first iteration, given that the iPhone already has advanced sensors and processing power capable of running ARKit apps in iOS 11.

One potential issue for Apple in using the iPhone itself as an augmented reality head-mounted display is image resolution. While Apple’s current Retina displays are high quality, the pixel count is actually low for viewing content from extremely close.

Another key feature that could make it onto a future iPhone for use with an AR headset is ProMotion display technology, which was introduced on the 2017 iPad Pro to give the device a 120Hz variable refresh rate.

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