Apple and Meta headphones could face a big challenge: the impact of the label

Apple and Meta headphones could face a big challenge: the impact of the label
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Apple Y Facebook parent goal they’re expected to launch mixed-reality headsets next year that could finally deliver on the industry’s promise of making headsets the next big thing in personal computing.

But there is one major potential downside: label shock.

The best-selling VR headset, the Meta Quest 2, retails for $400 and accounted for 78% of the nascent VR market in 2021. according to IDC. Consumers who want the next generation technology will have to spend multiples of that.

Meta’s upcoming high-end headphones, codenamed Cambria, are expected to cost at least $800, the company said. at the beginning of this year. Apple’s unannounced device could reportedly cost thousands of dollars. That’s a heavy load for products in a category that has yet to go mainstream. Only 11.2 million VR units were shipped last year, IDC said. Apple sells that many iPhones every few weeks.

To expand the market, Meta and Apple will have to convince consumers that the investment in more advanced systems will be worth it. Both companies are reportedly betting on a new technology called pass-through mixed reality, which requires better displays and more processing power.

If pass-through mixed reality works as advertised, a VR headset would also function as a set of augmented reality glasses, enhancing the possibilities for real-world applications and use.

With existing VR headsets, the experience is limited to what appears on the headset’s screen. In pass-through augmented reality, powerful cameras on the outside of a VR headset take video from the outside world and send it to two or more screens, one facing the user’s eyes.

This allows developers to play with mixed reality, overlaying software or graphics on real-world video from the outside.

Believers in mixed reality say we’ll eventually be able to condense the technology into a pair of lightweight goggles with clear lenses. But that is for the future.

The transfer approach is emerging as the preferred option in the short term because transparent optical screens are not yet ready for prime time. The current problem is that going through mixed reality requires a lot of expensive parts and a powerful headset, which limits the size of the market.

In addition to advanced cameras, pass-through devices need depth sensors that can take detailed video and measurements of the user’s surroundings. They must also track the user’s eyes so they don’t waste energy generating graphics that won’t be seen. And they need powerful processing capabilities and software to reduce latency so that what the user sees inside the headset isn’t delayed or blurred.

The most important thing is the high-resolution screen that must be much denser than a smartphone screen because it is very close to the user’s eyes. Smartphone screens average around 550 pixels per inch, but mixed reality devices require screens with around 3,500 PPI, according to to counterpoint research.

While Meta and Apple haven’t released their headsets, some devices currently on the market support mixed reality pass-through. Experiences tend to be limited (black and white or low quality video) due to lack of processing power.

A few weeks ago, I was able to test some headphones from varjoa Finnish company co-founded by Urho Konttori, a former Microsoft and Nokia executives. Last year, Varjo launched the XR-3, which offers full-color, low-latency pass-through mixed reality. It is expensive, heavy and is aimed at companies. It costs $6,495 to buy or about $1,500 to rent for a year.

Playing with the XR-3, I felt less isolated than with other VR headsets.

Varjo XR-3 Headphones


I could access a virtual world with the push of a button and I could open games that took up my entire field of vision. You could use virtual computer monitors that display Windows applications within the virtual world.

I was also able to interact with the world around me through Varjo’s cross-sectional view. In the demo, Varjo placed a life-size car model inside the space. I was able to walk around him and inspect his interior and discuss what he was seeing with someone who wasn’t wearing a VR headset.

Most impressively, when pass-through was activated, I was able to interact with the real environment around me, having a conversation with the person next to me or finding a chair and sitting on it. This is not possible with existing VR technology, which forces you to step away from the physical world.

Konttori told me that this was one of his main goals. The company wants to almost mimic the display quality of the “human eye,” which it calls the “holy grail” of mixed reality.

‘A single coherent scene’

The XR-3 has two 2880-by-2720-pixel displays, and the company uses eye-tracking to focus its processing power to deliver better image quality where your eyes are looking.

The key is “being able to merge the physical reality around you with virtual reality objects and make it into a single coherent scene, where you can no longer tell what is real and what is virtual,” Konttori said. “Part of this evolution is that you can see that, at some point, the fidelity of this experience is equal to what you would perceive when looking at it with just your own eyes.”

However, to use the XR-3, it needs to be wired to a powerful gaming PC. Meta and Apple are focused on developing devices that don’t require a connection to a separate computer. Konttori knows it will be difficult for his startup to compete with some of the world’s biggest tech companies, but says Meta and Apple still face challenges.

This is because developing a consumer-friendly product with the correct weight and energy consumption is very complicated, especially when it comes to keeping costs down and shipping millions of them.

“Companies are focusing on consumer-like experiences, which means they’re still really driven from a size, weight and ergonomics standpoint, as well as cost,” Konttori said.

An attendee uses an HTC Corp. Vive virtual reality (VR) headset during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, U.S., on Monday, June 5, 2017.

David Pablo Morris | Mayor Bloomberg | fake images

Apple is notoriously secretive about its product roadmap, especially when it comes to new categories. The company has invested heavily in virtual reality research and development in its Technology Development Group and has bought several start-ups that specialize in mixed reality technology.

According to reports by Bloomberg Y InformationApple is developing a mixed-reality headset that looks like ski goggles with a powerful homegrown chip, similar to the one that powers its MacBook laptops, and higher-resolution screens than those currently on the market.

The headset will reportedly support pass-through video and offer games and other apps. At one point, Apple was seeking at least 4K TV-like resolution per eye for its first headphones, because anything less could cause users to see individual pixels. Information informed.

Apple has not confirmed its plans to release a mixed reality headset, and the company did not respond to a request for comment on this story. in a interview with Chinese media earlier this year, Apple CEO tim cook suggested that something is in the works.

Meta has said that Project Cambria, with color transfer support, is scheduled to be released later this year. According to the renderings of the device that have been made public, it also looks like a pair of ski goggles. It will include pancake optics, a type of lens that doesn’t need to be calibrated as finely as other VR lenses.

Meta said in May that the Cambria’s price would be “significantly higher” than $800.

While the passthrough technology has yet to hit the market in a real way and will be quite expensive once it does, metaverse developers are rallying behind it. The leading alternative, optical-based mixed reality, uses transparent displays embedded in glasses to integrate computer graphics with the real world. Hololens and Microsoft’s Magic Leap use optical waveguides, a type of transparent screen.

Transparent screens are also expensive and come with their own challenges. They’re not good when used in broad daylight, and current offerings can have poor image quality and blurry text.

Varjo is betting on transfer technology, and Konttori says it’s the best approach in large part because it’s completely digital, putting more control in the hands of developers.

“It becomes computable,” Konttori said. “It becomes a tool for artificial intelligence to participate in your world, enhance your vision or your intellect, and you can distort the world in the smallest or largest way possible.”

He hopes the transfer will be “the winning approach for a long, long time.”

CLOCK: The future of entertainment is mixed reality gaming experiences

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