(NewsNation) — Apple is set to enter a new product category for the first time in eight years with the expected launch of a virtual reality/augmented reality headset next week.
The long-rumored product is finally ready to launch, according to multiple media reports. It’s likely to be unveiled at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference starting June 5.
Notably, the media outlet UploadVR said its editor received an invite to the conference’s keynote address, which is when new and updated products are announced.
Apple’s largest competitor will be Meta and its Quest devices.
While Apple hasn’t officially confirmed it’s working on the headset, Bloomberg reported it will likely be sold under the Reality name. Multiple reports have put the expected retail cost at around $3,000, far more than the $399 for a Quest 2 or $999 for a Quest Pro.
The launch of the devices comes at a critical time for Apple and the broader tech industry.
Facebook has invested heavily in the virtual reality, so much so the company rebranded and changed its name to Meta in 2021. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the time “we believe the metaverse will be the successor to the mobile internet.”
Meanwhile, CNBC reported that VR headset sales, including the Quest, shrank in 2022 — down 2% from a year earlier.
However, Apple hopes it can make a breakthrough with its own technology, just as it disrupted the market with the iPod, iPhone and Apple Watch. As the Wall Street Journal notes, the smartphone and smartwatch categories ballooned in the years following Apple’s launches.
While Apple initially hoped it could sell 3 million units a year from the get-go, it scaled back the estimates to 1 million and then 900,000, Bloomberg reported. However, it hopes the headset can become as popular as the Apple Watch or iPhone, of which more than 200 million are sold each year.
As for the capabilities of the headset, it’s expected to resemble a pair of ski goggles and requires a separate battery pack, according to Bloomberg. It’s a deviation from Apple CEO Tim Cook’s vision of wearable eyeglasses, though the company’s vision is for its customers to eventually wear the device continuously all day.
While VR is a self-contained experience, CNET notes that AR uses cameras to insert digital objects into video of the real world. Apple’s other devices such as iPads and Apple Watch could act as spatially connected devices. It’s not expected to have a controller like the Quest, but rather use eye and hand tracking.
Outward facing cameras will enable wearers to see the physical world around them while they play in the virtual world, the Wall Street Journal reported.
It includes a “reality dial” that gives users the ability to increase or decrease the real-world video, according to The New York Times. Beyond its appeal to gamers, the device will be pitched as a tool for artists, designers and engineers, as well as function as a high-resolution TV.