Apple mixed reality headset could feature advanced gesture controls

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Apple mixed reality headset
It probably won't look anything like this.
Photo: Vu Hoang/Flickr CC

Apple’s first mixed reality headset will pack a number of advanced sensors that allow for innovative gesture controls, according to one analyst.

It is believed the device will be able to recognize subtle changes in hand movements, like the clench of a fist, to allow users to interact with virtual objects without using another device, such as a controller.

Apple’s first headset may be way ahead of its rivals

Apple is somewhat late to the augmented and virtual reality markets, with the likes of HTC, Oculus, Sony, and Valve already offering their own headsets. But Cupertino could have a number of tricks up its sleeve to get ahead.

In much the same way iPhone and iPad revolutionized smartphones and tablets, it is believed Apple’s first mixed reality headset could feature advanced technologies that fix many of the weaknesses found in today’s devices.

One of those is the need for an external controller. Rather than giving users a gamepad or remote, Apple’s headset will feature multiple sensors that detect subtle movements and gestures in mid-air.

‘A more intuitive’ user experience

“We predict that the structured light of the AR/MR headset can detect not only the position change of the user or other people’s hand and object in front of the user’s eyes but also the dynamic detail change of the hand,” wrote TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in a report seen by Cult of Mac.

“Capturing the details of hand movement can provide a more intuitive and vivid human-machine UI (for example, detecting the user’s hand from a clenched fist to open and the balloon [image] in hand flying away).”

Kuo compares this to how certain Apple devices can already detect facial features and expressions for features like Face ID and Animoji. But for better implementation in a mixed reality headset, Apple will use sensors with a wider field of view that can detect objects 100-200% further away, Kuo said.

Those 3D sensors, of which Kuo believes there will be four sets, will also do much more than read movements and gestures. It is believed they will also be capable of tracking your eye movements, detecting objects, and more.

Coming in late 2022?

An earlier report from Kuo, who has proven reliable in the past, indicated Apple plans to launch its first mixed reality headset late next year. The device is expected to offer a number of key apps that make it more than just a gimmick.

The device is also expected to be lighter and more compact than existing augmented or virtual reality headsets — and it could pack its own powerful chips that allow it to operate independently, without an iPhone or Mac.