Color blind glasses

Micro-OLED screens and M1 chips

After years of rumors about Apple’s fancy AR/VR glasses, the company may finally launch the product this year. A report recently indicated that Apple had started manufacturing a near-final model. A brand new story now details some of the key features of the device, reinforcing the idea that Apple’s first mixed reality device could offer an experience you won’t find on more traditional, gaming-centric VR headsets.

Apple’s first-generation AR/VR glasses will look like other recent VR devices. It will be a headset that fully covers the user’s eyes, projecting images into the retina. However, the gadget will also be a mixed reality gadget capable of supporting augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Most headsets only support the latter, which is a technology that allows the device to stream content directly into the user’s eyes.

Apple’s AR/VR glasses would also allow the user to see through the glasses and experience digital elements superimposed on top of the real world.

Render of Apple Mixed Reality Glasses – side view. Image source: Ian Zelbo

Apple AR/VR Glasses Specs

Last year’s reports detailed the high-end specs of Apple’s first-generation AR/VR glasses. They claimed that the handset will feature high-resolution displays that could stream 4K content to the user’s retina. They also said the device will feature a system-on-chip (SoC) comparable to the M1 chip that Apple uses for iPad and Mac. It’s an incredibly capable SoC, which would give Apple AR/VR glasses a significant advantage over competing platforms.

korean website ETNews reiterates these claims in a new report. The Apple headset will feature a version of the M1 SoC if sources are accurate. The news site claims the device will run iOS, although that’s probably not Apple’s name for the glasses’ operating system. The operating system may offer a familiar iOS experience, but Apple will likely give it an appropriate marketing name. The RealityOS brand has been mentioned in other reports.

The micro-OLED screen

Also interesting is the display technology that Apple will use for the AR/VR glasses. The report says Apple will use micro-OLED displays sourced directly from TSMC. Micro-OLED displays do not require color filters, as they are deposited directly on the chip wafer. The advantage of micro-OLED screens is that they are thinner and smaller. They are also more efficient, which will help with battery life.

In addition, micro-OLED displays allow pixel sizes of 4 to 20 μm compared to 40 to 300 μm for OLED panels. The micro-OLED panels will also offer faster response time, a feature that AR/VR glasses like Apple’s unreleased headset can benefit from.

MacRumors reminds us of reports from last year that claimed Apple would use micro-OLED displays for the next Apple Glasses. The screens could feature resolutions of up to 3,000 pixels per inch, and Apple could rely on them for AR and VR capabilities.

the ETNews report is consistent with a recent assertion by Nikkei that TSMC will manufacture the micro-OLED displays. But well-known screen expert Ross Young said recently that Apple will use Sony’s micro-OLED panels for AR/VR glasses.

Render of Apple Mixed Reality Glasses
Render of Apple Mixed Reality Glasses – bottom view. Image source: Ian Zelbo

Apple AR/VR Glasses release date

While these Apple AR/VR Glasses specs can’t be confirmed at this time, we do know that a separate report from Asia said earlier this week that the headset has reached the next phase of engineering validation. This is an indication that Apple may well unveil the glasses this year.

Previous reports indicated that Apple will likely want to unveil the new hardware several months before the actual release date, just like it has done with other first-generation devices.

This will give developers time to create new experiences for the new platform as Apple promotes the device. Apple’s WWDC 2022 event this summer could be where the company chooses to showcase the first-generation AR/VR glasses. But that’s just speculation at this point.