Apple’s heavily rumoured AR/VR headset may require a wireless tethered connection to a nearby device in order to assist in the processing power. The headset may be treated in a similar vein as early Apple Watch iterations.
According to a new report from The Information, Apple is working on the development of a custom SoC for the headset which is intentionally missing featured capabilities found in other Apple processors. Via the report, the SoC is forgoing a neural engine, which would handle AI and machine learning. Instead, the custom chip is reportedly better at transmitting data and compressing/decompressing video. This would enable Apple to position the AR/VR headset as a supplemental device next to an iPhone or Mac, similarly as they did the Apple Watch.
The Information was told by sources that the SoC is also being designed to make the AR/VR headset has power-efficient as possible. By streaming data from another device and removing part of the chip to streamline that effort, Apple may be able to maximize the battery life of the headset for the user.
Although Apple may be looking to thether the headset to other devices during use, the AR/VR device will still have its own dedicated CPU and GPU, according to the report. Although it may be likely that the headset is communicating with an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, it may still be able to run baseline tasks on its own.
Finally, the report highlights information regarding the headset’s image sensor. Sources told The Information that the headset will feature an image sensor that is “unusually large”. It’s said that it is as big as one lense of the headset, which has made it difficult to manufacture. It’s reportedly being designed to capture “high-resolution image data from a user’s surroundings for AR”.
As far as when we’ll start seeing the fruits of Apple’s labour in AR/VR, earlier reports have said that the first AR headset from the company will release in 2022. A pair of AR glasses is then pegged to release in 2023.