Apple Inc (AAPL) is one of the few tech giants that have decided not to officially launch a product for the metaverse. However, the iPhone maker could unofficially venture into the immersive 3D space with its new headset.
Apple is developing a mixed reality headset for virtual and augmented experiences. And according to Bloomberg, people close to the matter suggest that the device is already in the penultimate phase after executives presented it to the board at a recent meeting.
The new device will run Apple’s “rOS” reality operating system, according to the report. The operating system was first spotted this January in App Store upload logs, leading experts to believe that the tech giant was working on an AR/VR device.
While Apple has not stated whether the device is being developed specifically for the metaverse, its market likely includes the immersive 3D space. The metaverse has seen explosive growth since last October, with some analysts forecasting a market value of up to $100 billion by the end of 2022.
Bloomberg also published a report forecasting a market value of $400 billion by 2026, while Citi, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley believe the opportunity could be worth as much as $13 trillion in total, over the long term.
So it makes sense that tech companies involved in AR/VR headset development would not want to let the opportunity pass without launching a product that capitalizes on the current trend. Apple is no exception.
Experts speculate that the device could use Memoji, Apple’s version of custom Animojis for the Facetime experience in the mixed reality headset, according to a Bloomberg report.
“I imagine a virtual reality version of FaceTime where you can be in a conference room with dozens of people. Instead of seeing their real faces, you’ll see 3D versions of them (Memojis),” Mark Gurman wrote.
“I assume the headset will be able to determine a person’s facial expressions in real time, which will make the experience quite realistic,” he added.
He also expects the device to use SharePlay, a feature that allows multiple users to share experiences such as movies and music. The device is also expected to be one of the most expensive on the market due to the technologies used to create it. Initial projections point to a starting price of around $2,000.
Apple’s headset was originally planned for a 2019 unveiling, with a 2020 launch. Apple later intended to announce it in 2021 and launch in 2022, but pushed those plans back again to 2022 or 2023.