Tech Enthusiasts Rejoice: Apple’s AR Headset is Closer Than You Think

Two patents and a leak that tell a long story

Tech Enthusiasts Rejoice: Apple’s AR Headset is Closer Than You Think
David Bernal Raspall

David Bernal Raspall

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I still clearly remember, a couple of years ago, a very specific section of the inaugural WWDC21 Keynote. Craig Federighi was telling us about the iPhone and how Siri was going to be able to work better and he was showing us on screen some examples of requests. One of them was “Hey Siri, give me directions to Monterey.” Monterey, yes, the Mac operating system that was going to be presented a few minutes later and about which we still knew nothing, not even the name.

Apple likes to surprise, but the complexity of the projects they propose is such that we regularly see leaks or hear rumors of what may come. What happens is that too often we focus on the news itself, on the leak, on the detail, and if there is something to do when looking at Apple is to have a global picture. Let’s do this exercise with the future augmented reality helmet.

A patent here and a leak there that, connected, tell a deeper story

Let’s take a couple of patents that have, as far as we could see, nothing to do with each other and mix them with a leak. We have a patent that indicates that we will be able to control home automation devices with a gesture on the Apple Watch, another patent that we will be able to control AirPods with head movements and a leak of a couple of components for the Apple Reality Pro, the helmet that we expect to see presented this WWDC 2023.

Alleged part of the Apple Reality Pro.

Do they have something in common? Yes, and it tells us a lot about what we can expect from these future augmented and virtual reality glasses or helmets. The parts themselves, as collected in MacRumors, give us little or no clues, but they do provide us with a timing. For internal prototyping, Apple usually manufactures components directly in the Apple Park, the simple fact that this part ended up on a Twitter account indicates a production of many more units than just prototypes.

Then there are the two patents. The first one is very clear. Patently Apple tells us about a patent to control the AirPods with head movements. Something as simple as touching the AirPods while lowering the head to lower the volume or raising it to raise it. Does that sound like an augmented reality headset?

Patent for controlling AirPods with head gestures.

In addition to eye movements, head movements can be an important source of interaction with these glasses. One that, with everything we know, may well rely on the AirPods for all the audio part. And then there is another kind of movements, those of our hands. Here another patent comes into play.

Also picked up by Patently Apple, this one tells us about the possibility of controlling HomeKit accessories by pointing them with the hand where we wear the Apple Watch. This would allow the watch to display a control interface that, by the direction in which we point, would know which device we want to act on.

Patent for HomeKit device control via Apple Watch and gestures.

Two patents that, apparently, do not have a direct relationship, but if we look at them in perspective, they all point in the same direction. The way we interact with our devices is going to change. It is going to change to something much more gestural, because instead of having a screen in front of us to touch, the extended reality is going to make us, so to speak, move within the activity. So, the gaze, the head movements, the hand movements, what we point to, all of that comes into play.

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As far as we know, and the leak of some parts of the future Apple Reality seems to confirm it, we will see these glasses or extended reality helmet presented this June and will arrive this year at the express request of Tim Cook. The clues to its operation? Some in the form of patents, others in the form of features that have already reached the AirPods Pro 2. In any case, we need an overview to get an idea of the situation. Step by step, the pieces of Apple’s augmented reality headset are starting to fall into place.

David Bernal Raspall

David Bernal Raspall

Architect | Founder of | Apple Technologies Trainer | Writer at Softonic and iDoo_tech, formerly at Applesfera

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