By Chand Bellur
May 19, 2020 at 4:19 p.m. PT
- Rumors suggest that Apple is working on a virtual and augmented reality headset.
- Apple’s recent acquisition of NextVR signals interest in live, virtual events.
- Fortnight and Mindcraft have recently held record-setting virtual events.
Apple Acquires NextVR
NextVR is a virtual reality technology provider specializing in live events. The company focuses mostly on sporting events and concerts; however, the technology could power conferences and other live experiences.
For some time, Apple has been moving into augmented and virtual reality. The two technologies differ only slightly. Augmented reality superimposes computer graphics on a view of the real world. For example, an augmented reality navigation system would superimpose directional arrows onto an authentic view of the road. Virtual reality, however, is all fantasy. Walking on the surface of Mars donning a VR headset is an example of virtual reality.
Both reality-shaping technologies use similar equipment. A VR headset, however, doesn’t need to provide an accurate, transparent view of the real world. AR must present the user with a precise picture of reality.
Designing and manufacturing devices is something Apple does well. Design guru Dieter Rams went so far as to say Apple is the best design company on the planet. Providing content for the devices is a relatively new thing for Apple. They’re getting better at it; however, acquisitions help speed the process along.
NextVR Has Value
Apple acquires companies for various reasons. Sometimes it’s to use their technology; other times, it’s to ensure technology never sees the light of day. In the case of NextVR, Apple’s intentions are clear. Their products will seed the development of Apple’s future AR/VR content platform.
NextVR’s accomplishments are already impressive. Back in 2016, the company teamed up with Live Nation to provide virtual reality access to hundreds of concerts. The company has also partnered with the NBA and FOX Sports to provide virtual reality sporting events.
The development of 3D audio and stereoscopic 3D mixing facilities based in a truck enables NextVR to take their technology just about anywhere. The company makes real products with lots of hardware and gadgets. They’re not just another superfluous social media farse with an overly-simplistic product. Their technology has substance and may be the cornerstone of the next big thing. After all, do we expect to fiddle with smartphones indefinitely?
Given these accomplishments, it’s clear why Apple acquired the company. Apple can improve its products and mass-produce them. To accomplish an AR/VR content platform, Apple will need multiple NextVR production trucks. Creating a fleet of VR production trucks would be impossible for a company like NextVR. It’s chump change for Apple.
Apple’s Future AR/VR Headset
At this point, Apple’s next big thing is an AR/VR headset. Rumors abound as to what the product will offer. No one knows for sure, so at this point, it’s best not to over-speculate. One thing we can assume is that, much like the Apple Watch and AirPods, its upcoming AR/VR wearable will be a huge success and dominate the market.
The strategy with Apple’s other wearables is to let competitors make the first move. They make all of the mistakes, which helps Apple make a better product. At this time, none of their competitors offer a compelling VR experience. While VR games may appeal to some, concerts and sports would impress a larger audience. Although these experiences exist, consumers have held back on purchasing VR devices. VR is not trendy or appealing, and it won’t be until Apple enters the market.
No one is sure when Apple’s new headset will come out. Rumors suggest 2022, which gives the tech giant plenty of time to get their ducks in a row. Most analysts agree that Apple’s foray into AR/VR will be game-changing. This is Apple’s next iPhone.
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