Apple’s AR headset could feature ‘pancake’ lenses and arrive in late 2022

By

Apple AR VR headset
Good luck getting one at launch.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Apple’s first mixed reality headset will feature “pancake” lenses that allow for a lighter, more compact design, according to a new report. The device is still on track to make its debut in late 2022, despite early production delays.

However, it is believed the headset — which is expected to offer both augmented and virtual reality experiences — will be in short supply initially. Availability is set to increase substantially in early 2023.

Apple’s first mixed reality headset coming this year

We’ve been waiting years for Apple to dip its toes into mixed reality hardware. It has long been pushing augmented reality on iPhone and iPad through its ever-improving ARKit platform, but a first-party Apple headset is yet to materialize.

Reliable sources are increasingly confident, however, that 2022 will be the year Apple’s first mixed reality device finally arrives. But, according to TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, it will be in short supply initially.

In a research note seen by Cult of Mac, Kuo says “more significant shipments” of Apple’s first mixed reality headset won’t take place until early 2023, which suggests it will be difficult to obtain when it makes its debut.

That’s thanks to early production issues — including the ongoing supply constraints affecting most manufacturers in the technology industry — that have prevented Apple’s headset from arriving even earlier.

‘Pancake’ lenses for a compact design

Kuo also said in today’s note that Apple’s device will use ” 3P pancake” lenses, supplied by Genius and Young Optics, to allow for a lighter and more compact overall design. Cupertino is intent on avoiding a bulky headset like its rivals’.

Pancake lenses feature several sheets of glass packed tightly together to reduce the overall size of the package. They are already popular among mirrorless and DSLR photographers who don’t want to carry large lenses.

Although pancake lenses aren’t as versatile as other lenses, with no zoom capabilities, they are smaller and more affordable, and their few disadvantages are likely to be irrelevant in augmented and virtual reality applications.