Smart glasses: Apple ready to add specs appeal to the next big thing in tech

The first headset will be capable of both virtual and augmented reality

Futuristic outlook: Apple is reportedly working on tech glasses that, in a few years, will resemble a regular pair of specs

Adrian Weckler

What’s the next big thing in tech? Is there any gadget or device about which we might say in two or three years’ time: “Wow, it all really changed in 2023, didn’t it?”

One possibility, according to those plugged into the tech grapevine, might be Apple’s next-generation glasses, due to be announced in just over a week.

For those who haven’t been keeping up, Apple is about to unveil a new headset, with a much more advanced version to come in a year or two.

The first product, according to all the supply chain leaks, will be a headset capable of both virtual and augmented reality.

For those who need a quick refresher, virtual reality (VR) is a headset that immerses you totally in the eye-screen, where you can’t see anything outside it; augmented reality (AR) is where the glasses or headset let you see your actual physical surroundings as well as some screen or ‘virtual’ things.

Apple’s new headset is reportedly supposed to be aimed at work-related things, like conferencing and as an extension to a Mac, as well as leisure stuff such as games or ‘immersive’ movie experiences.

So far, so so-so. Unlike regular VR headsets from the likes of Meta or Sony, it will come with extra external cameras and internal eye sensors so it can detect the wearer’s hand and eye movements to help them control things. In other words, Apple wants to make a VR/AR headset that’s actually usable outside niche gaming or ultra-niche industrial processes.

It is likely to cost a small fortune, with informed pundits predicting upwards of €3,000. Will this be a big deal? Yes and no. Personally, I don’t expect everyone to run out and buy one of these for Christmas. Neither does Apple, it seems; it is said to have made relatively modest sales targets for it in year one.

But it’s the follow-on product that really has insiders talking.

According to the supply-chain leaks and embedded reporters, this will be something much closer in appearance to a regular pair of glasses, but with extraordinarily advanced tech powers — much more powerful and subtle than current basic, creepy ‘smart’ glasses like the Facebook’s video-recording specs. It promises to sidestep the biggest single barrier to most people considering a VR or AR headset: the clunky, dorky, antisocial size of them.

Obviously, the usual question applies: why on earth would anyone need a pair of highly advanced glasses?

I can think of a few reasons. If they’re good enough, they could let you do things like ‘zoom’ your vision on to something far away. Or return answers to questions like: “Siri, what am I looking at now?”

And if you think this sounds too futuristic, remember that Apple is uniquely good at taking a struggling, bumbling technology (like smart glasses) and crafting it into something that ordinary people not only like, but find they can no longer live without.

There were smartphones before the iPhone, but none of them were remotely interesting to most of us. There were smartwatches before the Apple Watch, but they were only for geeks. (Today, the Apple Watch is the bestselling watch of any kind, from kids to grandparents.) AirPods not only outsold other wireless earbuds but changed the headphones market completely.

As always with Apple, there’ll be plenty of hype. We’ll soon know if it’s justified.

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