Apple Glass: Release Date, Price, Specs, News, and Rumors

Apple mixed reality appears to be shaping up in eyeglass/headset form

Apple Glass (aka Apple Glasses) is rumored to be the next step in augmented reality for consumers. Apple was granted a U.S. patent for a 'predictive, foveated virtual reality system', and another for a head-wearable device, which both appear to be part of a long-rumored augmented/mixed reality head-mounted display system from the tech giant.

Apple Glasses US patent illustration

U.S. Patent Publication 20210034145

When Will Apple Glass Be Released?

There are dueling opinions on a release date, partly because there are possibly three types of glasses/goggles that will eventually be released.

Prolific Apple leaker Jon Prosser surmised (and he's frequently correct with his predictions) in May 2020 the AR glasses could be introduced in the first quarter of 2021. However, respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is leaning more toward first quarter of 2022 (at least for the "helmet type").

A rough release timeline obtained by AppleInsider appears to support Ming-Chi Kuo's predictions plus it speculates there are actually two types of Apple Glass projects underway. MacRumors, too, says its sources claim Apple is working on two AR projects that include an augmented reality headset to be released in 2022, with a more refined version launching in 2023-2025 (maybe even contacts lenses a few years after that). Whether they'll all be called Apple Glass is still up for debate.

The acquisition of NextVR was considered to be a clear step in the AR/VR direction for Apple. TechRadar surmised its content broadcasting experience could prove useful in the long run for Apple, along with its sports content-licensing deals.

Lifewire's Release Date Estimate

Look for Apple Glass in 2022. Given the pandemic and resulting Apple delays, we're more comfortable siding with Ming-Chi Kuo on this one and betting on a 2022 acknowledgment and potential sale of the first version, with the more sophisticated version following in 2023. Look for a teaser to come as a 'One More Thing' statement at a standard Apple product launch event with the usual Apple MO of 'announce first, release months later'.

How Much Will Apple Glass Cost?

According to Prosser, the starting price will be around $500 plus the price of an eyeglass prescription (if needed).

Where to Pre-Order

Since there's been no official announcement, there's nothing to pre-order. Yet.

The Latest News About Apple Glass

You can get more Smart & Connected Life news from Lifewire on all kinds of topics; here are more stories (and some of those rumors) about Apple Glass in the meantime.

Apple Glass Features and Specs

We're totally going off rumors here, but these are only the ones that make sense. Here's what we're expecting:

  • As close in style to typical glasses as possible
  • A half-inch display with 1280x960 resolution using Sony OLED Micro-displays
  • All data would be processed on iPhone
  • Plastic or metal frames
  • Both lenses will display information
  • A UI called 'Starboard'
  • Controlled by gestures
  • A Lidar sensor on the right temple
  • Over 12 cameras, both low and high resolution
  • Wireless charging features
  • Ability to scan Apple QR codes

Prosser claims current LiDAR data from the 2020 iPad Pro is going straight to the Apple Glass team. The 2020 iPhone 12 Pro Max also has LiDAR, so if you have one of those systems and he's right, you just might be assisting in the development of these new AR glasses.

How Does Apple Glass Work?

No one really knows for sure but the general idea behind the patent is an eyewear system that uses sensors to detect and track motion. The word 'foveated' stems from the idea of 'foveated rendering', which essentially changes what the eye sees when something is viewed through a foveated lens.

The patent abstract says 'a Predictive, Foveated Virtual Reality System may capture views of the world around a user using multiple resolutions. The Predictive, Foveated Virtual Reality System may include one or more cameras configured to capture lower resolution image data for a peripheral field of view while capturing higher resolution image data for a narrow field of view corresponding to a user's line of sight. Additionally, the Predictive, Foveated Virtual Reality System may also include one or more sensors or other mechanisms, such as gaze tracking modules or accelerometers, to detect or track motions.'

Building off this abstract, then, one could look at similar ideas from other companies to start getting the idea of what the eye would see. Nvidia has conducted some research into this and has some interesting images which give a general idea of how something like Apple Glasses could work. This Foveated 3D Graphics paper from Microsoft Research is also useful in understanding where Apple is headed with Apple Glass.

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