Apple is ramping up its development of augmented reality (AR) hardware, according to a new Bloomberg report. The company wants to have technology for a headset ready by 2019, and sell it as early as 2020, according to the report.
Apple plans to build a standalone AR headset that will be powered by what the company internally calls rOS, or reality OS, according to Bloomberg. The headset will be capable of running its own apps, and have access to a dedicated version of Apple’s app store. Possible applications include messaging, virtual meetings and 360-degree video.
The company’s AR efforts are being led by Mike Rockwell, a former Dolby Labs engineering leader. His group, which is thought to consist of hundreds of engineers, most recently developed Apple’s ARKit software.
ARKit allows developers to build their own AR apps for Apple’s iPhones and iPads, making use of the devices’ front-facing cameras to map rooms and track objects. Apple officially unveiled ARKit at its developer conference earlier this year, and has since integrated into iOS 11, the most recent version of its mobile operating system.
The big question for Apple’s hardware efforts is whether the company is going to make a device priced for and targeted towards consumers, or whether it will try to capture the enterprise market first. Microsoft has been squarely focused on business applications for its $3000 HoloLens headset, while at the same time using some of its technology to develop cheaper virtual reality devices. Magic Leap, which has been quietly working on its own augmented reality hardware, is thought to be targeting consumers instead.