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(Pocket-lint) - Apple will reveal an expensive VR headset as a precursor to a more consumer-friendly AR system that will take longer to develop. That's according to Bloomberg who have spoken with sources familiar with the matter. 

There sure is a lot of smoke around a potential Apple headset - too much to be faked in our thinking. Of course, Apple is no stranger to AR - ARKit enables AR apps to run on iOS and was first introduced in 2017. However, as Microsoft's HoloLens has showed, AR glasses and headsets are still very niche. 

It seems like the first headset will be a pro-level fabric-covered device with a fan that may launch as soon as 2022 with an eye-watering price tag, says the source. It was also a weighty device during testing, but apparently it is now the same size as an Oculus Quest. The goal with the headset will be to get developers on board in time for the launch of consumer-friendly AR glasses. 

The source adds that the headset will use higher-resolution displays than those currently in use in rival headsets such as Oculus.

The CPU in use is apparently more powerful than Apple's M1 chips used in new Macs, so could be the A15 coming to 2021's iPhones or an M2 that is likely to come to more powerful Pro Macs this year. The CPU and GPU will be inside the headset rather than offloaded to another device (like a Mac), which is also the model Oculus has increasingly followed. 

The source has some quite detailed information - like that fact it will use a fan - plus it is apparently codenamed N301, with the AR glasses being N421. The glasses are, according to the source, an "architecture" which Bloomberg says means Apple is still looking at underlying technologies and so would be with us by 2023 at the very earliest. Bloomberg also says that development has slowed in the last year because of the inability for all engineers being able to be in the office at the same time.

Apparently the headset doesn't have space for prescription glasses - instead custom lenses can be inserted into the headset. Apple is also testing the built-in cameras for hand tracking and is also said to be working on a system to input text by 'typing' in the air. 

Last year Apple bought NextVR, a company which gave sports and concerts a VR platform.  The company had partnered with Fox Sports, Wimbledon and the NBA among others. 

Writing by Dan Grabham. Originally published on 21 January 2021.