Apple’s Augmented Reality Headset
Apple has been building more advanced AR tools into its iPhones for years, and the upcoming headset will likely dovetail with that. Unlike tethered headsets like Meta’s Quest 2, they may rely on phones to do much of the heavy lifting.
Already available are smartphone-powered AR headsets such as the Ghost augmented reality headset and the Mira Prism smartphone AR. Another example is the Focals smart glasses from North (formerly Thalmic Labs).
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality (AR) overlays computer-generated images or information on top of the real world. It can be seen on screens, AR smart glasses, handheld devices, and head-mounted displays like Microsoft’s HoloLens 2.
Unlike virtual reality, which fully immerses the user in a virtual world, AR allows users to stay grounded in the real world but still see virtual elements as a visual layer in front of them. This makes it a very useful tool for enhancing the user’s experience or showing them things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to see.
The first applications of augmented reality were weather visualizations that were superimposed on television images of real-world environments, such as the yellow first-down lines added to TV images of American gridiron football fields or virtual flight paths used by golfers to track their shots. More recently, AR has been employed in military training to display battlefield data on soldier’s visual screens or help them navigate complex locations by rendering a virtual map and overlaying points of interest.
AR is a rapidly emerging technology that will soon change how we work, play, and connect with the world around us. AR can be used to reduce return rates by letting customers try on products or see how they fit in their home, for example, or to increase conversion rates by allowing them to view 3D versions of products that would be impossible to show on a flat screen.
How do AR Headsets Work?
AR headsets use a display to superimpose computer-generated images or digital information over a user’s real-world view. These devices are primarily used as wearable glasses or helmets, but can also be held in hand. They can be tethered to computers or smartphones, or run on battery power. They can also be wireless and connect to WiFi networks.
The quality of an AR experience depends on the hardware and software that powers it. More expensive ar headset headsets like the HoloLens 2, Moverio BT-300, Magic Leap 2 and Vuzix M100 offer higher quality experiences than cheaper smartphone AR headsets.
In the workplace, AR headsets are used to enhance productivity by giving workers hands-free access to information and instructions that would otherwise require manual reading or referencing paper documents. They can also be used to monitor equipment performance and locate parts for repair or maintenance. They can even be used for training purposes by overlaying simulated environments on top of the real world.
Unlike VR, which requires a dedicated computer to run applications, AR can be used on any device running Android or iOS. It uses sensors to track the movements of the user and the environment around them, and can either project virtual objects onto a physical object or use an external camera to superimpose virtual graphics on the real world. It also uses the cloud to communicate with connected products and can be controlled by touchscreen or voice.
What Are the Benefits of AR Headsets?
AR headsets are designed to superimpose digital images, text and even 3D models onto the real world. It is used in apps like Snapchat filters and Pokemon Go, but it is also increasingly being employed to aid business training activities.
Unlike virtual reality (VR), which requires immersive headsets, AR headsets are usually light and comfortable to wear. Depending on the type of headset, it can be worn for extended periods of time. It can also be easily adjusted to fit the user’s head, and some models include audio headphones.
One of the most important benefits of AR headsets is that they enable users to get more information in a safer environment. This makes them ideal for use in dangerous and hazardous workplaces where workers may otherwise need to look at a manual or ask other employees for help.
AR headsets also make it easier for frontline workers to troubleshoot problems and find solutions. For example, they can easily access information about equipment and machinery, which helps them to locate and replace defective parts faster. They can also see instructions for how to use equipment in the field without having to stop working or risking injury.
Other uses of AR headsets include allowing customers to try out products before buying them online. For example, fashion and beauty shoppers can use “try before you buy” AR capabilities to see how a garment looks on them or ar headset how a product will look in their home or office space. Similarly, auto repair technicians can superimpose detailed instructions and imagery on broken vehicles to identify and fix problems quicker.
What Are the Drawbacks of AR Headsets?
Augmented reality systems use sensors, cameras and display devices to superimpose virtual three-dimensional (3D) objects and environments on the user’s real-world surroundings based on their geometric relationships. These images are often combined with data from GPS, 3G and 4G mobile technology and remote sensing to enable users to interact with the environment. AR is commonly found in smartphone apps, heads-up displays and wearable devices such as smart glasses.
AR has the potential to create new levels of engagement with learning content, making it a highly effective tool for training. However, there are a number of drawbacks to using this technology that need to be considered.
Security is a key concern. As AR headsets blur the line between the digital and physical world, hackers may target these devices to gain access to sensitive information. For example, a malicious program could overlay inaccurate data on a worker’s AR device, leading them to believe that they are in an unsafe location or situation.
In addition, AR headsets are still expensive and difficult to use. The HoloLens and Magic Leap offer a field of view of only 34 degrees, which limits the level of immersion that can be achieved. Other companies such as ODG have developed a much more consumer-acceptable headset with a 50 degree field of view, but the hardware is still bulky and not easily portable.