Apple Reportedly Looked at Acquiring Augmented Reality Display Maker Plessey

Apple recently considered acquiring British company Plessey Semiconductors, a maker of Micro-LED displays for augmented reality devices, according to The Information.


The paywalled report claims that Plessey has instead reached a licensing deal with Facebook, which in a statement said it wants to build "a glasses form factor that lets devices melt away so we can be more present with our friends, families, and surroundings":
Facebook has struck a deal to buy all of the augmented reality displays made by British firm Plessey, as the social network looks to build AR glasses capable of overlaying virtual objects onto the real world. The deal could give Facebook an edge over Apple, which recently looked at buying Plessey, one of the few makers of AR displays, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Apple has expressed a profound interest in augmented reality in recent years, making a major push into the space with frameworks like ARKit and RealityKit, creative tools like Reality Composer and Reality Converter, and hardware like the LiDAR Scanner on the new iPad Pro and likely some iPhone 12 models.

Multiple reports have indicated that Apple plans to release a combination AR/VR headset by 2021 or 2022, followed by a sleeker pair of AR glasses in 2022 or 2023. Last week, MacRumors obtained a photo of a generic HTC Vive Focus-like controller that Apple appears to be using to test its AR/VR headset.
Related Roundup: Apple Glasses

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Apple Testing AR/VR Headset With HTC Vive-Like Controller, Crosswalk Bowling Game, and More

Apple has expressed a profound interest in augmented reality in recent years, making a major push into the space with frameworks like ARKit and RealityKit, creative tools like Reality Composer and Reality Converter, and hardware like the LiDAR Scanner on the new iPad Pro and likely some iPhone 12 models.

Multiple reports have indicated that Apple also plans to release a combination AR/VR headset by 2021 or 2022, and MacRumors has uncovered significant evidence of this project in a leaked build of iOS 14 that has been circulating.

MacRumors has obtained a photo of what appears to be a generic looking controller for an AR/VR headset, with a very similar design as the controller for the HTC Vive headset, released in 2016. Back in 2017, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reported that Apple engineers were using HTC Vive hardware for internal testing purposes.

Given the basic design of the controller, we suspect that it is for internal testing purposes only. Apple's consumer-facing controller would likely be much more polished.


Earlier this month, it was reported that iOS 14 contains a new augmented reality app codenamed "Gobi," and we believe that Apple is using this app along with QR codes to test augmented reality experiences on its AR/VR headset. There are QR codes that trigger experiences related to the Apple Watch, Mac Pro, Apple Store, Starbucks, and a movie poster.

One particularly interesting augmented reality experience that Apple is testing is a "crosswalk bowling game," which we believe may allow Apple engineers to roll a virtual bowling ball across the crosswalk to knock down virtual bowling pins on the other side of the street while waiting for the pedestrian light to change from stop to go.


This crosswalk boarding game can only be triggered at an intersection near an Apple office known as "Mathilda 3" at 555 N Mathilda Ave in Sunnyvale, California, which may be one of the locations that Apple is developing its AR/VR headset. This office is located roughly five miles from the company's Apple Park headquarters in nearby Cupertino.

All of this suggests that Apple remains deeply invested in its AR/VR headset project, although development may have slowed as of late due to the ongoing pandemic that has forced many Apple engineers to work from home for now.

Related Roundup: Apple Glasses

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Apple’s AR Glasses Could Launch by 2022 as Suppliers Reportedly Ramp Up Development

Apple's rumored augmented reality glasses are under development and could launch by 2022, according to industry sources cited by DigiTimes. The full report has yet to be released, but a paywalled preview reads as follows:
Apple AR glasses under development
Taiwan-based optical component suppliers are engaged in the development of Apple's augmented reality smart glasses, which may be commercialized by 2022, according to industry sources.
This follows a report from The Information in November that claimed Apple is developing two head-worn products, including a combination AR/VR headset for release in 2022 and "full-fledged" AR glasses for release by 2023. Those plans were corroborated by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who said the headset could be released as early as 2021.

Google Glasses

The Information claimed that Apple's initial headset will resemble Facebook's Oculus Quest, but with a "sleeker design" that makes "heavy use of fabrics and lightweight materials to ensure the device is comfortable to wear for extended periods of time." The headset is expected to have a "high-resolution display" that will "allow users to read small type and see other people standing in front of and behind virtual objects."

The report claimed that Apple is planning to reach out to third-party developers as early as 2021 to encourage them to build apps for the hardware.

The headset would be followed up by Apple's rumored AR glasses that would be designed to "be worn all day." The Information previously reported that some prototypes "looked like high-priced sunglasses with thick frames that house the battery and chips," but the final design could change. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman said the glasses will be "lightweight."

Early reports had pegged a 2020 release for Apple's headset, but the company reportedly pushed back the project. Given the current pandemic, the timeframe may continue to shift, but Apple's interest in augmented reality hardware is clear.
Related Roundup: Apple Glasses

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New AR Sensor Coming to 2020 iPad Pro and iPhone Models, AR/VR Headset as Soon as 2021

Following a report from The Information this morning summarizing a recent internal Apple meeting that pegged the release of Apple's augmented reality headsets for the 2022–23 timeframe rather than the more aggressive 2020 window that has previously been rumored, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has shared additional information on the company's AR roadmap that will initially focus on the iPad and iPhone before the glasses come to fruition.

"Apple Glasses" concept

Gurman says Apple is working on "a range of augmented and virtual-reality devices" based around a new 3D sensor system, which will arrive first on a new iPad Pro slated for release in the first half of next year, and followed by the 2020 iPhones later in the year.
A new ‌iPad Pro‌ for release as early as the first half of 2020 will feature a new module with two camera sensors, up from one on the current model, and a small hole for the 3-D system, letting people create three-dimensional reconstructions of rooms, objects and people. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant also plans to add the sensor to new high-end iPhones later in 2020, along with 5G networking capabilities, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing unannounced products.
Moving beyond existing devices, Apple is said to be targeting 2021 or 2022 for the release of a combination VR and AR headset focused on "gaming, watching video and virtual meetings." A lighter weight set of AR glasses could follow as soon as 2023.

The 3D sensor system to be used in the upcoming is said to be a more advanced version of the current Face ID sensor, and Apple's engineering teams are working on creating linkages to the new "rOS" operating system for these headsets that will let them work with existing iOS devices.

For more on Apple's AR/VR project, check out the full report over at bloomberg.com.

Related Roundup: Apple Glasses

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Apple Said to Release AR Headset With 3D Scanning in 2022, Followed by Sleeker Glasses in 2023

While noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Bloomberg, and others have claimed that Apple plans to release an augmented reality headset as early as 2020, a new report suggests that the head-mounted device may be a few years away.

Apple currently aims to release an augmented reality headset in 2022, followed by a "sleeker" pair of augmented reality glasses by 2023, according to The Information. The report claims the timeline was shared by Apple executives in an internal presentation to employees at Apple Park in October.

Interestingly, the meeting is said to have been large enough to fill the 1,000-plus seats at Steve Jobs Theater, suggesting that Apple may have a large team working on the project. The report claims the discussions were led by Apple's recently appointed AR/VR head Mike Rockwell, a former Dolby executive.

Google Glasses

The meeting is said to have reflected on some of the headset's planned features, including "3D scanning" and "advanced human detection."

The report claims Apple's headset will resemble Facebook's Oculus Quest virtual reality headset released earlier this year, but with a sleeker design, adding that Apple wants to "make heavy use of fabrics and lightweight materials" to ensure its headset is comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.

The headset is said to feature a high-resolution display and cameras that will allow users to "read small type" and "see other people standing in front of and behind virtual objects." During the meeting, Apple executives allegedly said the technology will be able to map the surfaces, edges, and dimensions of rooms with greater accuracy than existing devices on the market.

"To illustrate these capabilities, attendees at the October meeting were shown a recording of a demonstration in which a virtual coffee machine was placed on a real kitchen table surrounded by people in a room," the report notes. "The virtual coffee machine obscured people standing behind it in the room."

Apple executives said the company plans to reach out to third-party software developers as early as 2021 to encourage them to build apps for the device, so the headset could end up being previewed earlier than 2022.

The headset, allegedly codenamed N301, appears to be only one of Apple's ongoing AR/VR projects. The other is said to be a pair of AR glasses codenamed N421, with current prototypes said to resemble high-priced sunglasses with "thick frames that house the battery and chips." The final design could change.

Related Roundup: Apple Glasses

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DigiTimes: Apple Partnering With Valve to Develop AR Headset

DigiTimes is reporting this morning that Apple has partnered with U.S. game developer Valve to develop its rumored AR headset, which is expected to launch next year.


Apple reportedly has partnered with US game developer Valve to develop AR head-mounted display devices, which may be released in the second half of 2020 at the earliest, with Taiwan's ODMs Quanta Computer and Pegatron said to handle the assembly job, according to industry sources.
Creator of the popular Steam digital storefront and delivery platform, Valve launched Steam machine consoles in 2015 and released its first VR headset, Valve Index, in April 2019.

Notably, Valve worked with Apple in 2017 to bring native VR headset support to macOS High Sierra, leveraging the operating system's then-new eGPU support with a Mac version of Valve's SteamVR software. However, Apple's latest partnership with the company is said to be focused on AR, not VR.
Apple will cooperate with Valve on AR headsets rather than VR devices, as its CEO Tim Cook believes that AR can make digital content become part of the user's world and will be as popular as smartphones with consumers. This has also promoted Apple to step up the development of AR software by recruiting more engineers for graphic design, system interface and system architecture segments.
Back in July, DigiTimes reported that Apple had temporarily stopped developing AR/VR headsets and that the team working on them was disbanded in May and reassigned to other product developments.

However, according to the latest information from the Taiwan website's sources, Apple was actually in the process of shifting from in-house development to collaborative development with Valve.

Just last month, respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple was cooperating with third-party brands to launch its first head-mounted AR product. Kuo believes Apple's AR headset is rumored to enter mass production as soon as the fourth quarter of this year in time for an early 2020 launch.

Code found in Xcode 11 and iOS 13 as recently as September has confirmed that Apple is still working on an augmented reality headset of some kind. In addition, there is an icon within the internal Find My app bundlede picting what appears to be an AR or VR headset that looks similar to the Google Cardboard.

MacRumors concept of Apple Glasses

Kuo has said Apple's glasses would be marketed as an iPhone accessory and primarily take a display role while wirelessly offloading computing, networking, and positioning to the iPhone.

As early as November 2017, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reported that Apple's headset would run a custom iOS-based operating system dubbed "rOS" for "reality operating system." At the time, Gurman said Apple had not finalized how users would control the headset, but possibilities included touchscreens, Siri voice activation, and head gestures.

Apple originally aimed to have its AR product ready by 2019, but the company is said to have been relaxed about not shipping a product until 2020.

Quanta Computer and Pegatron are said to be handling the manufacturing and assembly job for Apple's headset. Quanta can reportedly produce AR headsets at a lower cost by leveraging camera lens technology licensed by Lumus, according to today's report.

DigiTimes' sources often provide reliable information, but the site has a mixed track record when it comes to interpreting that information and accurately deciphering Apple's plans, so treat this report with the necessary degree of skepticism for now until we can corroborate it from other sources.

Related Roundup: Apple Glasses

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Bloomberg: Apple Targets 2020 for Release of AR Headset, Apple Watch Sleep Tracking, and ARM-Based Macs

Apple has targeted a 2020 release for its augmented reality headset, although the timeframe could be pushed back if the product needs more development, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman.

Google Glasses

The report claims the glasses are expected to wirelessly pair with an iPhone to display information such as messages, emails, and maps over the wearer's field of vision. It would also be possible to play games on the headset, with Apple reportedly considering having an App Store for the headset.

Apple has a few other releases planned for later in 2020, the report adds, including Apple Watch models with sleep tracking and Macs with custom Apple-designed processors that are expected to be ARM-based.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 6, Apple Glasses
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

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Kuo: Apple’s AR Headset to Launch in Second Quarter of 2020

Apple's augmented reality headset will enter mass production as soon as the fourth quarter of this year in time for an early 2020 launch, according to a new report out today from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and seen by MacRumors.

An Apple Glasses mockup

In his latest research note with TF International Securities, the analyst says Apple will cooperate with third-party brands to launch its first head-mounted AR product in 2020, with Changying Precision tipped to be the main chassis supplier.

A Kuo report in March claimed Apple would launch an AR product in 2020 that could be ready by the middle of next year. However, Kuo has brought forward his predicted time of release and the analyst now believes the launch window for the product will fall in the second quarter of 2020.

Back in July, a DigiTimes report claimed Apple had suspended its AR headset project, but just last month, code found in Xcode 11 and iOS 13 confirmed that Apple is still working on an augmented reality headset of some kind.

Within the internal Find My app bundle that MacRumors exclusively shared, there is also an icon depicting what appears to be an AR or VR headset that looks similar to the Google Cardboard.


Kuo understands that Apple's AR glasses will be marketed as an iPhone accessory and primarily take a display role while wirelessly offloading computing, networking, and positioning to the iPhone.

Designing the AR glasses to work as an iPhone accessory is also expected to allow Apple to keep the glasses slim and lightweight, rather than trying to pack in all the processing hardware into the one device.

As early as November 2017, Bloomberg reported that Apple was developing an AR headset. Apple originally aimed to have it ready by 2019, but the company was relaxed about not shipping a product until 2020. The report said the headset would run on a new custom operating system, based on iOS, and dubbed "rOS" for "reality operating system."

In addition, today's report underlines Kuo's previous prediction that the most important change to the Apple chassis industry chain in 2020 will be the upgrade of the 5G iPhone's metal mid-frame/chassis.

For Apple's 2020 iPhones, Kuo believes the company will adopt a new metal frame structure reminiscent of the iPhone 4, which will significantly increase the unit cost due to the increase in processing procedures and the integration of composite materials.

Today's report from the respected Apple analyst also covered Apple iPad Pro and MacBook plans for 2020, which we've covered in a separate article.

Related Roundup: Apple Glasses

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Xcode 11 GM Confirms Apple’s Work on AR Headset

Code found in the golden master version of Xcode 11 confirms that Apple is working on an augmented reality headset of some kind, and perhaps planned to announce it at the event but scrapped the debut last minute.

9to5Mac's Guilherme Rambo and developer Steve Troughton-Smith found that Xcode 11 features an ARDisplayDevice framework with references to codenamed Apple headsets that are in development, including Franc, Luck, and Garta (which pertains to HoloKit, a third-party device).

An Apple Glasses mockup

References to these names were previously discovered in iOS 13 code alongside a STARTester app able to switch in and out of a head-mounted mode, replicating the functionality of an augmented reality headset on an iPhone for testing purposes.







There was also a reference to a StarBoard system shell for stereo AR-enabled apps, which has also been located in the Xcode 11 GM by developer Steve Troughton-Smith, along with a ReadMe file that specifically references an Apple "HME" headset.

It's not entirely clear what Apple is working on, but as 9to5Mac outlined last week, the stereo augmented reality data found in the iOS 13 and Xcode 11 GM code references support for a face-mounted AR experience said to be more similar to Google's Daydream than a pair of smart glasses.

The fact that Apple left this code in the Xcode 11 GM suggests that it was perhaps something that the company originally planned to talk about today, though it's not known if that is indeed the case.

Related Roundup: Apple Glasses

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Apple Watch Sleep Tracking, Schooltime Mode, AR/VR Headset Icon, and More Revealed in iOS 13 Code

Over the past few days, MacRumors has published several details about Apple's upcoming Tile competitor and its development of an augmented reality headset after receiving an internal build of iOS 13 from a source.


Digging further into the code, we have come across several other tidbits of information related to the Apple Watch and iPhone.

First, it appears Apple is working on a new Schooltime feature for the Apple Watch, which is designed to help students focus during school hours by blocking access to apps, complications, and notifications on the device. Emergency calls and alerts will not be blocked for safety reasons.

Users can set when Schooltime is enabled in the Apple Watch app on iPhone, such as every weekday.

Apple is also testing sleep tracking on the Watch, as reported by 9to5Mac earlier today. We can confirm this functionality is referred to as "Time in Bed tracking" based on internal iOS 13 code, with one string noting that "you can also track your sleep and get woken up silently by wearing your watch to bed."

A new Sleep app on the Apple Watch will provide users with an overview of their sleeping patterns, as well as send users bedtime and battery charging reminders. Apple Watch users will be recommended to have at least 30 percent of battery life to wear it to sleep, according to an iOS 13 string seen by MacRumors.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman was first to report that Apple was testing sleep tracking on the Apple Watch. Back in February, he said Apple plans to roll out the feature by 2020 if the testing is deemed successful. This follows Apple's acquisition of the iPhone-connected sleep tracking accessory Beddit in 2017.

MacRumors has also uncovered references to new Apple Watch complications, including ones for Altitude, Latitude, Longitude, and Sleep. When released, the Sleep app may also have an entire watch face, based on a "ClockFaces-Burrito" string. "Burrito" is the codename for the Apple Watch's sleep tracking.

As for the iPhone, internal strings in iOS 13 point towards new low-light photo settings in the stock Camera app and possibly a new Tournaments feature in Game Center for multiplayer games, although details are slim.

Earlier today, MacRumors uncovered an icon within Apple's internal Find My app that depicts what appears to be an AR or VR headset. There are "on" and "off" versions of the icon in white and gray respectively, and each has "B389" in its filename, the codename for Apple's upcoming Tile-like item trackers.


This icon could simply represent the expected augmented reality mode in the Find My app and likely does not depict Apple's actual augmented reality headset. Read our earlier coverage for more details on that project.

MacRumors continues to dig through the iOS 13 build, which is from June, and we will be sure to share any further discoveries.

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