Has Apple bitten more than it could chew? It appears that the long-awaited AR glasses won’t be hitting the shelves any time soon. A Bloomberg article published recently says that the Apple AR glasses are facing technical challenges, so their release has been delayed indefinitely and the project scope pared back. The report also revealed that Apple may instead opt to release a more affordable mixed reality headset.
Emma Ridderstad, CEO and Co-founder of Warpin Reality, shares her insights on the delayed release of the Apple AR glasses and the development of its mixed reality headset, probably to be called Reality Pro. She also shares her thoughts on what these developments mean for the industry, the consumers, and the future of AR/VR.
Apple AR Glasses Shelved to Make Way for an MR Headset
For a couple of years now, Apple has been developing AR glasses that resemble real eyeglasses. The design has already gone through several iterations but still, apparently, fails to meet expectations. While it is unclear where the real problem lies, it is clear that we won’t be seeing through the Apple AR glasses this year.
According to Bloomberg, what we may see soon are MR headsets that combine virtual and augmented reality elements. It was reported that Apple is shifting its focus towards developing a bulkier but less complicated MR headset with a projected price tag of $3,000. The company then plans to follow this with a more affordable version priced at just around $1,500, closer to Meta Quest Pro, though still with a higher price tag.
A Wise Move by Apple
When asked whether the delay of the Apple AR glasses will affect businesses that have already adopted the technology, Ridderstad believes that it would have little impact. Aside from the limited number of businesses currently using Apple’s AR technology, those that have adopted it are not fully reliant on it.
According to Ridderstad, AR/VR technology is still in its infancy. As immersive as these headsets are, they aren’t very convenient. The use cases are still quite limited, and the high cost of both hardware and software can be restrictive. “VR headsets need to become useful to people. Right now, they solve business-to-business problems but they’re still mostly just fun for the end consumer,” Ridderstad explained. So, Apple’s shift from AR glasses to MR headsets makes sense given the broader need to make immersive technology more accessible and affordable.
Ridderstad also believes that Apple will remain a key player in the industry, despite delays on its AR glasses. Consumers continue to trust Apple to produce well-researched and designed products. Considering the price, design, and content of these headsets, the market needs to see more affordable and functional headsets. “Since most people are just starting to see what these new technologies can do, we have to remind ourselves that this evolution is going to take time,” she said. “The real end consumer adoption will probably happen with Apple this time too.”
The True Value of XR Goes Beyond Gaming and Entertainment
XR technology has long been associated with gaming. But Ridderstad argues that the true value of XR lies in its potential in business, training, and education.
Her company, Warpin Reality, has developed a platform called Xelevate, which allows companies to launch customizable VR training courses for their employees. These courses range from safety drills to customer experience simulations and personality development workshops. Platforms like this have allowed construction companies to train their people on safety and equipment use and taught employees what to do during emergencies.
Ridderstad believes that VR/AR can optimize focus, learning, and training. She cites a PwC study that found that VR learners are more focused, learn more quickly, and are more emotionally engaged than e-learners. It could also create opportunities in remote work for those who struggle with in-person demands such as people with disabilities.
Diversity and Accessibility in Tech
For years, the tech industry has been known to be a boys’ club. This still remains true in the metaverse. A McKinsey report found that in organizations shaping metaverse standards, 90% of leadership roles are held by men. Ridderstad warns, “The metaverse is not going to be an environment that people want to be in unless everyone feels welcome and comfortable. I think it is safe to say that unless women play their part in building the metaverse, and take their place among its architects, it won’t be.”
These technologies have the potential to revolutionize the future, so it’s important that they are designed for both men and women to see a higher level of adoption.