Apple’s AR/VR headset, which is probably coming out soon, might have an external battery pack that is connected by a wire. This sounds like a pain, but it might not be.
A VR gear needs to be comfortable and to be comfortable, it needs to be light. Apple’s headset sounds like it will be a powerful beast, but even its low-power M-series chips need batteries, which are big and heavy. Mark Gurman, who is always making up rumors about Apple, says that the answer is to put a cable between the headset and the battery. This could be the design choice that brings Apple’s headset to a whole new level.
“I think that one reason why the VR business hasn’t grown as fast as expected is because the devices are hard to use. DJ Smith, CCO of Glimpse Group and a VR expert, told Lifewire via email that he hopes Apple can do it again. “Apple has built its business by breaking the rules and releasing new products that make things easier for users. I hope they can do it again,” he said.
Apple’s augmented reality tech would be best if it were built into a pair of glasses, but we have to go through the “big ugly” phase first, just like we did with iPhones, laptops, and iPads. One day, AR glasses may seem as impossible as AirPods did when they first came out. Still, not yet.
Comfort may be the most important thing about a headset, especially if it’s meant to be used for a long time. Apple seems to have taken the battery out of its headset to make it as light as possible. Gurman says that the battery pack will use a magnetic snap to join and a twist-lock to make sure it doesn’t come apart while it’s being used. The battery pack itself will probably look like the iPhone MagSafe battery pack we already have, but it will be bigger. The battery should last for about two hours.
So, will this make or break the deal, or won’t it matter at all?
“The biggest problem with a connected battery is that it takes more time to set up the product. Still, when someone uses a VR device, it’s generally not something quick or easy. “It means the user plans to use the device for a long time, so the extra time it takes to set it up is not a big deal,” says Smith.
Emma Ridderstad agrees. She is the CEO and co-founder of Warpin Reality.
“Given how mobile Mixed Reality devices are right now, the pros of a tethered battery are probably more important than the cons,” Ridderstad told Lifewire in an email.
Apple can make this first version more like what they want the end product to be by taking out the battery. It could be thinner and lighter than its rivals. Also, do you really need to use a battery all the time? For VR, you’ll spend most of your time in the same (real) area. For AR, you can walk around the house or office, but I can’t imagine anyone taking these things out on the street until they get smaller and look less silly.
In computer terms, it’s like the laptop came before the desktop, but with a big battery pack on a leash. Over time, technology made that battery smaller and smaller until it could fit inside the laptop.
The “problem” with batteries might even become the rule for a while. Apple often comes late to a field, but when it does, it completely changes the way things are. Before the iPhone, most touchscreen phones needed a stylus and a lot of hard push.
After the iPhone, all phones have glass screens that can be touched in different ways and simple bodies. Before the iPad, a tablet computer was just a PC laptop with its screen turned around and its keys cut off. …et cetera.
Apple could own the market and change the way the whole business works, putting the whole sector on its feet.
“Apple’s mixed reality headset is going to make VR much more popular, especially for businesses and how they do things at work. Beyond the Zoom change, joining meetings and working with others will soon become even more personal, and “coming into the office” will have a whole new meaning, says Ridderstad.