Augmented Reality Headsets Face Looming Apple Competition

A bevy of companies making augmented and mixed reality headsets is scrambling to launch their products ahead of a mysterious headset reportedly coming later this year from the tech giant. apple (AAPL).


These companies recently tried to make a statement at the CES 2023 trade show in Las Vegas. Among the companies exhibiting computer glasses and goggles are: canon (CAJ), HTC, Magic Leap, Sharp, TCL, Bugix (Vuji). Many of these companies are now focused on enterprise applications rather than consumer applications for augmented and mixed reality headsets.

These headsets differ from virtual reality headsets, which block out the real world and immerse the wearer in a fully digital environment. Mixed reality headsets look like VR goggles, but pass through real-world video complemented with graphics. Augmented reality headsets look like glasses and project digital information into a person’s field of vision.

Augmented reality (AR) is finally becoming a reality after years of development in optics, processors, batteries, and other technologies, according to industry insiders.

Companies use driving markets for augmented reality

IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani told Investor’s Business Daily: “It’s still a big business market. But (CES) is laying the groundwork for a more consumer-friendly market. showed,” he said.

At CES, Magic Leap CEO Peggy Johnson talked about how her company’s headsets have been introduced into the operating room to assist doctors during surgery.

“Healthcare has some of the most advanced use cases for AR,” says Johnson. “And they are actually producing positive results for patients and doctors today. to better understand and even help guide surgery.”

Enterprises have paved the way for AR headsets in recent years, with applications such as remote assistance, collaboration, and training.However, Magic Leap and microsoft (MSFT) are expensive, starting at $3,300 and $3,500 respectively. It’s also bulky and looks like something out of a sci-fi movie.

AR glasses don’t look like tech

Vuzix CEO Paul Travers told IBD at CES: “In the mass market, the wider market, there’s only one way to get in. If it looks like[Microsoft]HoloLens, it’s DOA. It’s not going to happen.”

As such, Vuzix now manufactures waveguides and optics to deliver augmented reality experiences through regular glasses.

“You can walk down the street and nobody will notice you’re not wearing Oakleys,” said Travers. “They don’t look like technology.”

Vuzix hopes to sell its lenses and display engine to other companies to manufacture their own consumer smart glasses. The company has historically manufactured computer he headsets for corporate customers.

“The design that Vuzix showed off was very consumer friendly,” said IDC’s Ubrani. “It offers a simpler experience. Heads Up He’s like a display. It’s meant to give you notifications, directions, etc.”

Expect a wide variety of devices that use augmented reality

There will be a lot of experimentation in the AR smartglasses market, Lumus CEO Ari Grobman told IBD at CES. Lumus smartly manufactures a waveguide-based optical engine for projecting visual information onto the lenses of his glasses.

Products are on the horizon, from sleek, lightweight smart glasses for notifications and “data snacks,” to advanced headsets with high-resolution, wide-field displays, Grobman said. The type of device and application is determined by the customer, he said.

Meanwhile, the tech industry is eagerly awaiting the launch of Apple’s rumored mixed reality headset.

Apple Releases Mixed-Reality Headset

Bloomberg reported on Jan. 8 that Apple plans to unveil a mixed reality headset this spring, ahead of June’s Worldwide Developers Conference. According to Bloomberg, Apple will likely ship this product, possibly named Reality Pro, this fall. It is said to cost about $3000.

“I don’t think there is extreme demand for a $3,000 MR headset right now,” Ubrani said. But for Apple, it’s about gaining a foothold in the technology market, which is considered the next big thing, he added.

In a post-CES report, Jefferies analyst Kyle McNealy explained the many AR and VR headsets at the show.

In a note to customers, McNealy said, “We expect Apple’s engineers to be ahead of these competitors, but the technology needs a little more time to mature.” , with the technology maturing, it’s logical to think that Apple could bring VR wearables to market sooner.AR wearables need to pack just how much technical functionality into such a VR wearable. It’s understandably more time consuming, given the small, lightweight form factor.”

Qualcomm is a major player in the XR market

radio chip manufacturers Qualcomm (QCOM) has emerged as the leading technology provider in the market. That processor powers many of the new XR headsets. XR, short for augmented reality, is an umbrella term that refers to augmented, virtual and mixed reality.

Hugo Swart, Qualcomm vice president and general manager of XR, told IBD at CES: “We are now seeing results from that early investment.”

In November, Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon AR2 platform for augmented reality glasses. Products using that platform are likely to arrive in the second half of 2023, Swart said. These devices are for “early adopter” customers, he says, and mainstream AR his headsets are coming soon.

Research firm ARtillery Intelligence predicts that AR headset sales will grow from $1.85 billion in 2021 to $35.1 billion in 2026. Apple should give the market a big boost.

Follow Patrick Saitz on Twitter. @IBD_PSeitz For more articles on consumer technology, software and semiconductor stocks, please visit here.

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