Apple executives presented the upcoming mixed reality glasses to the company’s board of directors, noting that the development of the device had reached an advanced stage.
The company’s board of directors, made up of eight independent directors, and the company’s CEO, Tim Cook, meet at least four times a year. A copy of the device was presented to the directors during the last meeting.
In recent weeks, Apple has also ramped up the development of rOS – short for Reality Operating System – the system that powers the glasses.
This progress, along with the presentation to the board, suggests that a product debut could come within the next several months.
The headset, which combines elements of virtual and augmented reality, is the company’s next big bet, and is the company’s first major new product category since the Apple Watch in 2015.
This tech giant is thrust into a still nascent industry, one currently dominated by Meta. Apple is looking for new ways to expand its hardware business, which makes up about 80% of annual sales.
Apple aims to unveil the headset as early as the end of this year or sometime next year, with plans to launch a consumer version in 2023.
It was intended to be presented at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June. But challenges with content and high temperature have led to potential delays.
The company’s board of directors is usually the first group outside of regular Apple employees to see future products.
Executives introduced Siri to the board several weeks before it went public in 2011, around the time Steve Jobs resigned as CEO.
Apple’s move indicates progress on a major project
The headset features advanced processors — comparable to those found in Apple’s latest Mac computers — as well as ultra-high-resolution screens.
Although the first model offers both VR and AR. But the company is also developing standalone AR glasses, codenamed N421, for release later this decade.
Unlike virtual reality, augmented reality overlays digital information and images over the real world.
The current device, codenamed N301, has been in development since about 2015. The project is led by Mike Rockwell, the company’s vice president, which is also overseen by Dan Riccio, Apple’s former head of hardware engineering.
The company has about 2,000 employees working on the device as part of a team known as the Technology Development Group, or TDG.
The team developing the device faced many challenges during development, such as finding compelling apps and content. Technical hurdles also included overheating and improving the cameras inside the device.
The company is developing augmented reality versions of its basic iPhone applications in favor of the headset, as well as new applications that handle tasks such as broadcasting immersive content and holding virtual meetings.
The unveiling of the glasses was planned for 2019, with a launch in 2020. The company later aimed to announce it in 2021 before releasing it in 2022. But those plans were later pushed back to 2022 or 2023.
During its development, the device faced opposition from former chief designer Jony Ive. And Yves believed that Apple shouldn’t issue headphones that would take people out of the real world.
Eve also rejected a plan to make the headset work independently with an option that makes them more powerful when paired wirelessly to a processing center in the wearer’s home.
This plan was scrapped, and only current versions of the device became standalone. The glasses now include a more powerful version of the M1 chip that was featured in the company’s latest laptops.
In the early stages of developing a mixed reality headset, Apple engineers tested its operating system through the HTC Vive VR headset.
The development group also designed a miniature headset that uses the iPhone’s display, cameras and chipsets. But this device was created for testing only and the company did not intend to sell it.