Shoot like Lara Croft and jump like Crash Bandicoot: this is how Apple’s virtual reality headset works

It’s time to run. Then skid. Bats on the right. A lion from behind. Take out the gun. Shoot. Then find the key. dive. Run across suspension bridges. Be careful not to fall. And then jump. Do it with all your might. If not, he’ll taste the teeth of the much feared dinosaur that stalks Lara Croft in the first challenge of the Tomb Raider saga . A suffocating adventure, right? Definitely. But now, imagine living it in the flesh. Without the sweetness of a controller and a screen. You and the game. Or rather, you and the monster. This possibility, which some of us have dreamed of so much and which is still something very far from our lives, is already giving its first rays of light. Can you imagine swimming among piranhas in the purest Crash Bandicoot style? Or battle Heihachi Mishima to win Tekken ‘s Iron Fist ? Well, everything seems to indicate that, shortly, he will be able to do it. And with enough quality.

It is true that there are already brands that have created their particular virtual reality headsets to introduce us to the worlds of their respected titles. That is the case with Oculus , Sony or HTC . However, its effectiveness is still very limited. It is normal. Their releases are still the very first developments of a technique that has a huge operating margin.

In fact, that is what Apple has had to think about, which until now has preferred to remain in the background and not also compete in this field. His initial intention is to launch his bet in 2022 and, from there, move forward in a more sophisticated and unique game. Although with nuances. Well, in such a situation, a revolution equivalent to that of the iPhone is not considered, much less. Simply, it seeks to satisfy two needs: one internal and one niche. The first to avoid being stuck in the technological race and the second to satisfy those who have made ‘gaming’ a philosophy.

As revealed to Mark Gurman, the informant par excellence of everything that is cooking in the mysterious back room of the commercial giant, the device is designed to play games, watch videos and communicate in a 3D digital environment. Something similar to feeling like an Avatar of James Cameron in Pandora, but with the possibility of disconnecting by pressing just one button. Following his words in Bloomberg, the idea is that it also includes a series of external cameras that allow the position and movement of the hands to be detected in the real world with the determination to reproduce it inside the virtual world, eliminating the need to use gloves. haptics or special accessories. In the same way, it has been very blunt with respect to another feature: it will hardly incorporate augmented reality functions. This will be left to the future glasses that it will produce in 2023.

What is the difference? On the one hand, the augmented one is usually based on the real field of vision of the person, superimposing different digital elements on the scene. On the other hand, the virtual is built in a completely synthetic way on a screen placed in front of the eyes. For example, let’s take Final Fantasy VII as a reference : if we use augmented reality glasses, we would continue to see the glass through which we would play with the possibility of obtaining extra information about certain elements of the game. Instead, if we use a virtual reality headset, we would find ourselves inside the world of Squall Leonhart , seeing through his eyes and carrying his different weapons.

The big problem? His weight

In the case of the Apple project, whose technical name is N301 , the first leaks maintain that it will incorporate more powerful chips and a better resolution than those of its competitors. Specifically, the recent M1 and the long-awaited 8K, respectively. Although initially it was considered that the helmet would work as a complement to connect to the iPhone or an external instrument wirelessly, the final version will be completely independent, housing its own internal battery.

All this underlines that those from Cupertino have very clear guidelines for their new creation, which is in an advanced state. However, we must not ignore the problems that have been found along the way: the most important, its weight. The powerful processors and bulky fans made the gadget too big, which could lead to severe neck pain for users. Consequently, they decided to eliminate the space that these devices normally reserve for users who wear glasses and thus reduce their size a little.

In order not to harm the latter, the apple company has decided to insert custom-made prescription lenses. In this way, it would be lighter and closer to the eyes, relieving the tension that would fall on the neck. The great disadvantage is that, in many countries, selling prescription glasses complicates marketing, since it forces the helmet to be considered as a health device for which a prescription would be required.

But there is one more fact: to reduce its dimensions a little more, the company has made the decision to cover its external casing with fabric and not opt ​​for the characteristic metallic finish of its products. The best known case is that of the AirPods , for which they used plastic.

For ‘early adopters’

Now, what chances of success does an object with such characteristics have? Low. Its high price and its limited environment would be the main culprits. Something that Apple engineers know very well. Hence, they are considering it mainly for early adopters and as a first step in this new technology. They expect conservative sales and very oriented to the niche for which it is intended.

They do not seek to become a reference right now, rather to create the path on which they will later support their new releases. Something like what happened, at the time, with the first iPhone. Was it quite a revolution? Without a doubt, but the brand did not end up standing out until its 3G and 3GS versions. A journey that they hope to repeat with this article. Its objective, for the moment, is very clear: sell at least one helmet per day in each of its physical stores and prepare consumers for its future augmented reality glasses.

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