Apple readies processor to power future VR headset

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A Apple VR headset is an Open secret, as demonstrated by a recent patent filing.
An illustration from a recent Apple patent filing shows a possible VR headset.
Graphic: Apple

Apple is almost ready to send the chip that’ll be at the heart of its virtual reality headset to production, according to an unconfirmed report. That’s a big step in the product reaching customers’ hands.

The Information reports, “The SoC and two other Apple-designed chips for the headset hit a milestone known in the semiconductor industry as tape-out, which means the physical designs of the chips are complete and ready for trial production.”

Rumors that Apple is working on a VR headset have been around for years. But the device is apparently getting closer to release. Numerous sources, including The Information’s, point to a 2022 debut.

What we know about the Apple virtual reality headset

The upcoming Apple headset will supposedly have a focus on virtual reality gaming and watching video. But it could include front-facing cameras to allow augmented reality, too. It’ll be bulky and intended for use in home or in the office. And the chip being designed for it will reportedly be limited enough to require an iPhone in constant communication for the headset to function. Estimates of price are all over the map, from $500 to $3000.

But a VR headset is supposedly just part of Apple’s embrace of virtual reality and augmented reality. It’s already taken the first steps by putting Lidar scanners in the latest iPhone Pro and iPad Pro for advanced AR.

All this is allegedly working toward AR glasses. These are intended to be small and lightweight, and allow the wearer to do almost everything they do now with an iPhone, but through a heads-up display held in front of their eyes.

These aren‘t expected for years as much of the required technology doesn’t exist yet. Still, Apple CEO Tim Cook might stick around to make sure the AR glasses reach the market.