Apple Glass prototype top secret, but Oppo’s Air Glass could be close

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Apple Glass prototype top secret, but Oppo's Air Glass could be close

While it’s likely that only a tiny number of people at Apple Park saw a prototype Apple Glasses, I can’t help but feel that Oppo’s Air Glass gives us some kind of preview of the likely state of affairs.

It still looks far from a finished product, but at the same time it’s a lot closer to a Glasses product than the kind of clunky mixed reality headsets we first expect. I also think Oppo might be on the right track with a certain aspect of the design…

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It is believed that Apple has short, medium and long-term goals in this area.

The first product we expect is a mixed reality Apple headset. This will likely be largely similar to today’s virtual reality (VR) headsets, but with external cameras to integrate augmented reality (AR) content. Facebook parent Meta is believed to be working on a similar device.

The Apple headset team reportedly demonstrated the device to the company’s board of directors, suggesting it’s reached an advanced stage of development.

[The report] said Apple has been working on augmented reality versions of core iPhone apps to be used on the headset, as well as new apps “that handle tasks like streaming immersive content and hosting virtual meetings.”

The first iteration of the headset is expected to be a relatively bulky and expensive device with high-resolution displays, a powerful chip, and advanced sensors. Some previous reports have touted the headset at well over $1000. It may be primarily aimed at enthusiasts and the developer community.

A more affordable and likely more compact version of the same thing will likely appear next.

According to Kuo, the second generation of Apple’s AR/VR headset is expected to come in two different models. The first will be an upgrade to the first generation headset with better hardware and the other will be a more affordable model.

Apple’s long-term goal is believed to be something usually referred to as Apple Glasses. This describes a device that looks a lot more like traditional glasses but is able to overlay AR content. This concept was first realized in the ill-fated Google Glass.

Air Glass looks like an Apple Glasses prototype

Oppo only announced its Air Glass device for China only just before the end of the year, but The edge must try it now.

Rather than being permanently built into a pair of goggles, the Air Glass features a two-piece design. The system described above has a shallow magnetic indentation roughly resembling an Apple MagSafe connector in the center of the stem. To use it, slip on a pair of custom-made metal eyeglass frames that have a matching magnetic button on the temple. The frames are ordinary glasses but fit the lens system on the right, and you’ve got a monocular AR display that’s similar to Google Glass […]

Pairing the Air Glass with a (again, China-only) Oppo phone via Bluetooth gives you a green heads-up display that covers a small but significant portion of your view – about the size of my palm, for me a foot from my right eye. The virtual overlay looks like something a cyborg assassin would use in the 1995 dystopian future, but in a mostly good way: it’s high-contrast, reasonably visible in everything but bright sunlight, and avoids feeling like a washed-out one Phone screen feel Some full color AR displays do this […]

The low-tech magnetic studs slot right into the frames and seem like they could easily be added to a variety of styles. The magnetic hold between the 30-gram lens assembly and the frame is pretty solid, but it’s trivially easy to remove the AR portion and glue it into the case, even if you’re wearing prescription glasses the whole time, which makes it clear that you don’t have a secret screen taped to your face. It’s a solution that takes people’s privacy and distraction concerns seriously, rather than simply trying to hide what they’re worried about in a smaller package. It also helps that this generation of Air Glass doesn’t have a camera, although Oppo says it’s not ruling out the option for future versions.

The edges Adi Robertson says it’s still cutting-edge tech, with a three-hour battery life and a “rough” experience on the software side — but she’s won over by the design approach. Namely a relatively compact, lightweight unit that easily attaches to regular-looking glasses.

I think this could well be the direction Apple is taking. Keep the goggles themselves normal (and allow for a wide range of styles) and have a slip-on unit for tech. This would make it possible to switch between glasses and sunglasses, for example.

I wouldn’t expect that from Apple begin all pretty rough, but I’d guess the current generation Apple Glasses prototype looks something like this. The company has time to work on a more Apple-like design by the expected 2024/2025 launch date.

Images: Yuga Tech

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