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Apple: "Quality" AR headsets aren't possible with current tech

CEO Tim Cook believes "anything you would see on the market any time soon" won't provide a good experience

The technology required to make "quality" augmented reality headsets doesn't yet exist, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, and any devices reaching the market in the near future will not offer a satisfying experience.

Speaking to The Independent about Apple's ARKit, Cook wouldn't comment on the company's own plans for an AR headset, but he expressed doubt about the experience that any such device would offer using current technology.

"But today I can tell you the technology itself doesn't exist to do that in a quality way," he said. "The display technology required, as well as putting enough stuff around your face - there's huge challenges with that... The field of view, the quality of the display itself, it's not there yet."

Field of view was certainly an issue with the version of HoloLens Microsoft showed at E3 in 2015, and Cook strongly implied that those issues are far from being solved. Apple, he said, doesn't "give a rat's about being first," but it does want to be the best.

"But now anything you would see on the market any time soon would not be something any of us would be satisfied with," he added. "Nor do I think the vast majority of people would be satisfied."

Whether this applies to Magic Leap, which is poised to raise another $1 billion in funding, is an open question, but Cook obviously sees mobile as the best place for augmented reality right now. Indeed, he expects AR to follow a similar trajectory to mobile apps.

"Think back to 2008, when the App Store went live," he said. "There was the initial round of apps and people looked at them and said, 'this is not anything, mobile apps are not going to take off'.

"And then step by step things start to move. And it is sort of a curve, it was just exponential - and now you couldn't imagine your life without apps... AR is like that. It will be that dramatic."

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Matthew Handrahan avatar
Matthew Handrahan: Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.
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