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Details are trickling out about Apple's reported interest in smart glasses

  • Bloomberg reported last year that Apple was working on an augmented reality headset for shipping as early as 2020, which would have its own display, a new chip and operating system.
  • Now, CNET reports the company may also consider virtual reality capabilities for the device.
  • CNET's report cites an unnamed source, and says the headset could have an 8K display for each eye, would connect wirelessly to a dedicated, powerful box, and would not require placing cameras around the room.
Apple CEO Tim Cook
Bernd Thissen | AFP | Getty Images
Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple's reportedly interested in making smart glasses — and a new report from CNET on Friday sheds more light on what the plan could entail.

Bloomberg reported last year that Apple was working on an augmented reality headset for shipping as early as 2020, which would have its own display, a new chip and operating system. Now, CNET reports, the company may also consider virtual reality capabilities for the device.

The headset could have an 8K display for each eye, CNET reported, and would connect wirelessly to a dedicated, powerful box, and would not require placing cameras around the room (unlike some of today's headsets). This is all despite previous comments from CEO Tim Cook that virtual reality has "a lower commercial interest over time" than augmented reality.

CNET's report cites an unnamed source, but based on the report, Apple's headset would be on the higher end of headsets offered today by companies like Microsoft HoloLens, Facebook Oculus and Magic Leap. It would also provide a new platform for Apple as the smartphone market matures.

But a big question remains, namely, how lightweight the headset would be, especially one that offers mixed reality and connects to a tower. While Cook has expressed skepticism around clunky, enclosed headsets, Apple has many long-standing patents in this area. And lightweight augmented reality glasses for everyday wear have so far failed to make headway (think Snap Spectacles or Google Glass).

Still, augmented reality glasses might be much more mature by 2020. Companies that make parts for augmented reality glasses — including Vuzix, WaveOptics, Lumus and Apple supplier Quanta — all have products in the pipeline for that time frame.

Apple declined to comment on CNET's report.

The full CNET report is here.