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Apple AR headset being tested with HTC Vive-like controller, bowling game, more

Posted March 26, 2020 | Mobile | News


Apple Glasses concept render by Taeyeon Kim

Apple may be one of the most valuable companies in the world but it very rarely enters new product categories. Yet on the odd occasion that it chooses to do so, the company often shakes up the entire industry in the process.

Examples of this include the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch which transformed the smartphone, tablet, and smartwatch segments respectively. Soon, the growing AR/VR industry could join the list. 

Apple is using a HTC Vive-like controller for testing

As reported several times in the past, Apple is developing a headset, possibly called Apple Glasses, that combines both AR and VR technologies for release in either 2021 or 2022. Now, MacRumors has uncovered some evidence of this and even a photo of the headset controller in a leaked build of iOS 14.

The controller in question, which is probably being used solely for internal testing purposes, resembles those shipped with HTC Vive Focus headsets. In fact, it seems to be a modified version of the HTC controller. 

This isn’t that surprising considering Bloomberg reported back in 2017 that Apple engineers were using HTC Vive headsets for internal testing, but the striking resemblance between the two controllers does suggest the two companies could be working closely together on AR & VR technology.

Regardless of whether Apple and HTC are collaborating, though, it’s safe to say the final controller will probably boast a more polished design that is better adapter to Apple’s headset software.

QR codes trigger different AR experiences

In terms of functionality, the iOS 14 evidence uncovered by MacRumors strongly suggests Apple is using a dedicated augmented reality app codenamed “Gobi” and QR codes to test the extensive range of headset features.

Apparently, each QR code triggers a different experience for the users. Some of these include experiences related to the Apple Watch, Mac Pro, Apple Store, Starbucks, and even a random movie poster.

One of the more interesting experiences is QR code that triggers a “crosswalk bowling game.” This presumably allows Apple engineers to roll a virtual bowling ball across the crosswalk to knock down the virtual bowling pins on the other side. 

It likely acts as a pastime while waiting for the pedestrian light to change from stop to go. If ever released to public, users would probably be able to continue the game at different crosswalks and perhaps even play with friends. 

The version Apple is currently testing seems to be limited to one intersection near an Apple office known as “Mathilda 3” at 555 N Mathilda Ave in Sunnyvale, California. That could be where internal testing for the headset is taking place.

Apple could offer different virtual assistants to users

As revealed in a patent application (via AppleInsider) published today, everything mentioned above could be accompanied by virtual assistants that highlight useful information or offer tips to users during certain events or after a particular trigger. 

In the patent, which is titled “Contextual Computer-Generated Reality (CGR) Digital Assistants,” Apple gives a few examples based on what the user is seeing. One of these includes the possibility of a virtual dog being used to run over to a restaurant and fetch the relevant information for the user in question. 

Other ideas described include a pod of dolphins being used for AR navigation or a cat that guides users to an interesting place. A balloon could be used to show users where an AR-leveraging AirTag is too.

The possibility of experiencing other virtual assistants through other senses, such as hearing, was also mentioned.



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