For quite some time now there have been rumors concerning Apple’s interest in providing its legions of customers with augmented reality Glasses, or even a headset of some kind. This is one of the few areas of personal tech in which Apple is actually lagging behind to some degree. Both Google and Samsung have already put out VR headsets that are compatible with huge ranges of smartphones. Apple took its own path, making AR its signature with last fall’s iPhone and software updates.
But it’s sounding more and more like they’re also in the process of designing their own glasses or headsets to make their AR even more engaging. The most recent reports have them meeting with suppliers during CES to talk about AR glasses.
This presents an interesting question. With Apple having already made its AR apps a hit, what exactly would glasses or goggles change for users? What would be better, or different, about using these and other apps with equipment, rather than just a phone? These are impossible questions to answer definitively at this stage, but there are a few theories that make perfect sense.
VR Will Arrive
Much has been made of Apple’s decision to forego virtual reality in favor of AR. Tim Cook, the company’s CEO, has actually made a point of expressing this intent, and so far it seems to have worked out quite well. While plenty of companies are dabbling in VR, Apple has managed to stand out with its early forays into AR. Indeed, Google has very similar tech for its mobile devices, yet it’s Apple that’s viewed as leading the way in augmented reality.
It may well have been a brilliant marketing decision, if nothing else, for Apple to bide its time and bank on one rather than the other. However, even if this remains Apple’s stated and apparent intent, glasses would probably change things. VR with nothing but a phone (the way Apple’s AR currently works) just isn’t that compelling.
With glasses or goggles in play, however, VR experiences will be every bit as possible, and at that point it’s probably out of Apple’s hands. Developers will work on VR experiences for Apple’s equipment to the extent such developments are possible.
Gaming Will Be More Precise
As wonderful as Apple’s early work in augmented reality has been, there are some aspects of it that are still somewhat inconvenient and imprecise. For example, if you’ve tried one of the dozens of AR games that are already available, you may have noticed that you have to find a perfect surface for your phone to recognize before the game will work, and that even then too much movement can mess with the illusion or disrupt the game.
With glasses or goggles, surfaces will still matter for AR, but it should be easier to keep games stable and, as a result, to interact with them precisely. Plus, without having to hold your phone still “looking” at the game, you won’t be as rooted to the spot.
Bigger Games Will Be Possible
As thrilling as it’s been to get to know AR gaming via Apple (and Google) phones, any game that has to be viewed through a phone screen is fundamentally limited. With glasses, even AR can introduce more expansive gaming environments, which opens the door to bigger types of games.
Imagine for instance some of the strategy/combat games that have emerged, and picture a larger game map that surrounds you completely – it could make games like Civilization or Age Of Empires natural AR adaptations.
imagine casino games, which thanks to transitions to 3D formats and live gaming options have been knocking on the door of VR and AR for some time already. With glasses, you could see not only a card game or slot machine materialize in front of you, but a whole set of similar games in your immediate surroundings. The examples could go on, but the point is just that glasses will make games bigger immediately.
Additional Equipment Might Be Required
As you may well know, headset-based VR equipment tends to require additional material in order to work properly. While there are exceptions, most headsets need either additional sensors or handheld controllers to facilitate games. This may ultimately be true of Apple’s AR glasses as well.
This is a company that thrives on minimalism and the power of individual devices, so we wouldn’t guess that additional equipment will be fully required from the beginning. However, it’s a good bet that there will be equipment that can be used for certain experiences, available as an option for people who want to get the very most out of the devices.