Apple needs to show why their mixed reality headset matters

As we approach Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference next week, there’s a big question on everyone’s mind: Will Apple’s rumored mixed reality headset set the company up for failure, or will it pave the way for a future where smart glasses are everywhere?

Despite Apple’s track record with disrupting nascent technology – most notably with the iPod and iPhone – there’s a lot of reason for skepticism when it comes to mixed reality. VR headsets have plateaued in terms of the depth of their experiences and potential market. Existing mixed reality headsets are mainly targeted at corporate customers who can more easily stomach the high prices. And then, there’s the major problem: why would mainstream consumers, not the geeky early adopters or impassioned gamers, want to wear a headset for extended periods?

At its WWDC keynote on Monday, Apple will need to make the case for its mixed reality headset as deftly as Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone and iPod. But this time, it likely won’t have a completed product meant for mainstream users. Instead, we’ll probably see an appeal to developers to help build its mixed reality ecosystem, and for consumers to have faith that it’ll eventually be more affordable and truly useful.

Reportedly, Apple’s mixed reality headset will be a $3,000 device with a focus on gaming, exercise, and productivity, relying on finger gestures to navigate its feature-packed interface alongside support for physical keyboards.

While not everyone is convinced that “mixed reality” is the way forward, Apple’s mixed reality headset could easily translate into more advanced technology that doesn’t require you to wear anything. James Gold, President and Principal Analyst at J. Gold Associates, predicts that in five to ten years, what we will see is XR that does not require a headset to work, using heads up displays, even 3D displays on phones, and the like.

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It remains to be seen what the mainstream pitch for such a device would be, but Apple’s mixed reality ecosystem could potentially go beyond games to deliver experiences users can’t get anywhere else, such as having a 100-inch virtual window expanding out of your laptop’s screen.

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