Can Apple use AR/VR to set off the third revolution in the industry

The hardware field is ushering in a huge change, which may be related to helmets or smart glasses. In response to this change, while attracting developers, Apple is building two different hardware platforms at the same time.

What exactly is this upcoming revolution related to a certain "reality", whether it is virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), extended reality (ER) or mixed reality (mixed reality) XR), many people have different opinions.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has changed the company's name from Facebook to Meta, and encapsulates all of these realities into what he calls a "metaverse." The marketing ploy led many to see Zuckerberg as a leader, or at least a thought leader, in this new trend.

According to foreign media reports, Zuckerberg insists that VR represents the future, while Apple believes that it is AR. Confusingly, Apple, the main driver of the hardware platform, is expected to launch AR-enabled VR products next year.

There is a lot of fear, uncertainty, doubt, and hype surrounding the so-called "metaverse," so it's important to stop and understand what's happening now and what's likely to happen in the future. According to tech columnist Mike Elgan:

  • There is no metaverse at all, and there will never be one. The Metaverse is actually a shared, open VR/AR version of the Internet.
  • Basic end-user devices for VR and AR experiences can be grouped into three categories: 1) bulky indoor-only VR headsets; 2) bulky indoor-only AR headsets; 3) every day looking like regular glasses AR glasses.
  • Of the three categories above, the first two will provide exciting high-quality experiences, but will always be niche products in specific areas. Such as video game consoles or drones, which, while popular, are not at the heart of most people's lives.
  • The third category is AR glasses that can be worn all day in all social situations, which are likely to replace smartphones as the core device that everyone must have. This device will revolutionize human culture, changing the way we live, work and think. There is a view that within 10 years, AR glasses will become more important in work and life than smartphones.

Knowing these trends, what is Apple's response plan?

Apple now has hundreds of employees actively building two separate hardware platforms that will run a mobile operating system called realityOS. The first platform is a helmet, and the second is a smart glass.

Apple's headset, expected to ship next year, is essentially VR hardware intended primarily for AR, although it also supports VR functionality. For AR, this means that cameras will capture views of the user's physical environment, which will be presented to the user in real-time, augmented with audio and visual information. It has previously been reported that Apple's killer app on the platform will be virtual meetings based on digital avatars. The hardware will be as powerful as a PC, and just as expensive (at least $2,000), and will feature two 8K displays, one for each eyeball.

Apple's AR glasses will be equipped with sensors to map a 3D space and monitor the user's identity, gaze focus, and other factors. Spatial audio will help create the illusion that virtual objects exist in physical space. The glasses, which look a lot like regular glasses and will support the use of prescription lenses, may ship in 2025. Little is known about the final configuration of this glasses product, and Apple may not have finalized the final specifications.

Of the two products, Ergan believes, glasses are likely to spark a new revolution, replacing smartphones as the central platform for cultural change.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly emphasized that the company sees AR as the future of Apple. So, why build both platforms at the same time? Why develop VR equipment? Why doesn't Apple just wait until the smart glasses technology is mature before entering the market? In the words of former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, it's all about attracting developers.

Apple's first headset is likely to launch primarily as a proof-of-concept, a reference to upcoming revolutionary glasses. They may compete in a crowded, short-term indoor-only market where these devices can actually provide an exciting experience, but are too bulky and restrictive for most businesses or consumers.

However, such helmets will give developers a reason to embrace and stick with ARkit. They will enable enterprise developers to build custom applications, encouraging niche markets to use realityOS for the event and experiential marketing. They'll also show the world Apple's plans and create a safer environment for the upcoming Apple Glasses. The glasses could go mainstream and become a platform to replace smartphones.

Many expected Apple to call the headset "Apple Reality." The best-case scenario for Apple is to launch AR glasses within three years, with thousands of compelling apps running on them. Truly convincing applications take a lot of time to develop, and businesses take years to test, develop, train and integrate. As a stopgap measure, Apple Reality will give Apple the time it needs.

Will this strategy work? It is currently unknown. Apple has a solid track record, but it will depend on what Apple actually develops and what competitors do. Apple has a chance to lead the third massive industry change (the other two being PCs and smartphones). But whether Apple succeeds or fails, it is almost certain that AR glasses will lead the third big revolution.

Why smart glasses will change the world?

When people can wear smart glasses anytime and anywhere like ordinary glasses, this may enter the so-called "augmented society". For example, when you read an ebook or view a document on a web page or on a laptop, every element you see is a portal to relevant information. They can be copied, pasted, shared, captured, indexed, copied, sampled, saved, and searched.

Researchers at the University of Surrey have released a new version of their Next Generation Paper (NGP) project. With low-cost conductive paper, physical paper books can provide enhanced content with simple gestures. Flip a piece of paper, for example, and contextual information is displayed on a nearby device. This idea will be realized by advanced AR glasses, which will be able to recognize text and provide any kind of contextual information through gestures, without the need for special paper, smartphones, or tablets. Contextual information will hover over the book.

Cameras and other sensors, coupled with artificial intelligence (AI), will allow the smart glasses to recognize books, as well as symbols, landmarks, objects, people, and more, and QR codes will tell the glasses where to place virtual images and information. The big shift that AR brings is that everything, not just digital things, can acquire digital attributes. Knowledge about things seems to reside more and more in the things themselves, rather than in people's heads or on the Internet.

While people are curious to see how smart glasses will support the things we do on our smartphones, it's important to remember that smartphones have also enabled things that haven't been possible before, like posting photos on social media. Smartglasses will turn the entire world into our own personal AI-enhanced computers, capable of capabilities we cannot yet imagine while enabling behaviors we never imagined.

Apple can't afford to take second place in the next culture-changing technology space, and to that end it's building two platforms: one to attract developers and one to deal with big changes.

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