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Apple is reportedly building a ’16K’ VR headset (techcrunch.com)
47 points by Dangeranger 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 36 comments

I watched this rumor get bounced around the internet today, it's pretty hilarious how the facts get stretched every step of the way.

Claiming dual 8k displays (remember, 2 8k displays does not turn into a 16k display headset, because you need to double the height as well). From MacRumors: https://www.macrumors.com/2018/04/27/apple-ar-vr-headset-8k-...

Further rumors claims it'll run a custom 5nm processor (https://www.macworld.com/article/3269471/consumer-electronic...), even though there are currently NO fabs that can get 5nm.

Apple might be working on a VR headset, but I doubt these rumors are true.

> remember, 2 8k displays does not turn into a 16k display headset, because you need to double the height as well

Do you? I suppose everything that doesn't match the traditional 16:9 aspect ratio we use now is incorrect then? What about the fact that our displays were all 4:3 prior to that?

I guess it depends on whether we are considering 16k and 8k as something denoting specific sets of height and width that are standardized, as we have started to do with 4k (which is usually talking about 3840x2160, to my knowledge, because nobody wants to say 2160p).

That wasn't an aspect ratio point, it was about the stereoscopic requirement of display headsets.

Both eyes see mostly the same "8K" of content, just from a different perspective.

edit: Actually that's not quite right, even if you forgo a stereoscopic mode, the same content has to be shown to each eye. It's not like having dual monitors on a desk.

> That wasn't an aspect ratio point, it was about the stereoscopic requirement of display headsets.

Regardless of what's being shown, if the unit can display that many pixels in a row (possibly bifurcated), I don't think it's out of the question to refer to it that way. From a device-centric perspective, it's more accurate. From an "end-user that will use it primarily as a stereoscopic headset display" it's less accurate, even if that user may not be able to see all of the display space at once anyway(?).

> edit: Actually that's not quite right, even if you forgo a stereoscopic mode, the same content has to be shown to each eye. It's not like having dual monitors on a desk.

It's not the same content if used for 3d. It is very similar content tough (possibly verging on being identical in what I suspect are rare instances).

This is for a timeframe of 2020+ where TSMC says they will have 5nm ready:


And TSMC is Apple's preferred supplier so the rumour looks reasonable.

This could very well be talking about internal prototypes and internal goals for those prototypes, rather than a timeframe related to consumerizing it.

Well at 8k per eye (horizontal?) and 57pix/deg (retina resolution) that would be 140deg, which seems a bit of overkill (although it's close to max FOV). This is made especially difficult since latency is so critical to preventing VR nausea (120-180Hz). However, the bandwidth required to drive such (a pair) of displays would exceed 200Gbps (5 Thunderbolt per eye) so I assume going over the air there'd be a lot of compression? That's ignoring the GPU requirements which also scale... so seems like overkill.

More likely it's 8k total (4k per eye foveated rendering), and a single 20x9 display, but that's just a guess. You can do lots of things for a demo.

Edit- note the pictures are from MagicLeap and the idea that there are miniaturized high resolution microLED displays is pretty funny... perhaps they mean microOLED? Those top out below 8K even for max reticle size (30mm) die with 8um sub-pixels.

"Micro LED" is a relatively new display tech that's pretty much the same idea as OLED but made with metals instead of organic materials.

Yes, the microLEDs (I've heard of) are InGaN on Sapphire which are diced and placed in arrays. Apple bought a company doing this several years ago, but the densities they are capable of (30-100um pitch) and yields (1dppm?) are not a match for head mounted 8k displays (100mm/8000 = 12um pixel =>6um subpixel).

There are microOLED manufacturers like eMagin which integrate the active matrix into a Si substrate and use a color filter over white OLED, but even they are limited to ~2k RGB (per eye) at 9um pitch.

8K with H.265 compression over WiGig could work.

And as for driving the displays it's possible today for a single 8K monitor. So maybe Apple has internal technology (or assumes the technology will improve) to drive dual displays.

Also, just because the screen is 8k doesn’t mean the entire image needs to be rendered at 8k. They could track the eyes and render the focus point at native resolution while the periphery could be reduced (foveated rendering).

What’s the latency like with H265? H264 has ‘zero latency’ mode apparently - but I’d assume that the more advanced the codecs are the more temporal information is required which would increase latency.

Human horizontal FOV is about 210 degrees on average. 140 does not seem like overkill.

So it seems to me that Apple's MO is to wait for market proof before releasing anything. The iPod wasn't the first MP3 player. Ditto the iPhone and the iWatch.

I totally believe they're working on the technology. But I would bet that they'll wait to release anything until other people have demonstrated that a real, non-novelty market exists, so that they can come in with a much more polished solution than everybody else.

(Unless I'm missing something, of course. I keep looking for a user base where a VR headset is a daily driver. But as far as I can tell, it's still in the early adopter realm. Which is fine, but I don't think it provides a situation where Apple can polish something into a mainstream hit.)

If a VR headset could replace my monitor I'd use it for programming.

That's an interesting hypothetical use case. But my point is that Apple doesn't really build for hypothetical use cases. What they're really good is finding niche existing use cases and then making great consumer products out of them.

So I wouldn't expect Apple to enter the "VR as monitor replacement" market until there's already a bunch of early-adopter types who are wearing goggles 8 hours a day.

This was my thought when I first put on a VR headset. Right now the text is not crisp enough to allow for this without eye strain, but within a couple of years we could be there.

I would love a field of view display space, with the option to stack windows behind one another and cycle through them.

Ya, I'd easily drop $1000 for "unlimited" display space... not to mention the gaming potential.

1) The market proof already exists. There are plenty of VR headsets and a few AR headsets.

2) It isn't a VR headset. It's a dual AR/VR headset. AR has a lot of real world applications.

People selling things is not the kind of market proof that seems to attract Apple. Those things exist, but who is using them every day for hours a day?

Consider Google Glass. Or 3D TV. Or the Brewster Stereoscope [1]. All of these were novel, exciting, and sold hundreds of thousands of units. But after the novelty wore off, did people use them? When the first one wore out, did they buy a second? Not really.

In contrast, MP3 players, smartphones, and smartwatches are in that category. They have more than novelty value. If VR has gone beyond that, I haven't seen it yet. My own VR doodad is gathering dust somewhere, for example. It was fun to play with, but it wasn't enough better than existing devices (phone, laptop, projector) that I continued to bother with it past the experimental phase.

I'll note that AR has some modest industrial uses; Boeing has been doing it since 1990. But Apple's design and marketing genius is centered on the consumer space. My bet is that they won't launch a product like this until somebody else has developed enough success with a niche audience that Apple sees it can take the product across the chasm. [2]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereoscope#Brewster_stereosco...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossing_the_Chasm

iPhone was absolutely the first of it's kind. In a lot of ways it was a repudiation of the existing phone/pda devices at the time.

My Nokia 9500 had all the features of the iPhone, as well as apps like a spreadsheet. Further back I traded stocks online on a 2001 phone based on a Palm Pilot, which also included basics like email, messaging, calendar and so on.

The iPhone took all those features and repackaged them into a stunningly simple and intuitive device. It was absolutely a repudiation of the existing devices and industry, but that was the design, not the features.

Exactly. I was a Treo user, and I had the Internet and apps in my pocket for years. There was also the whole Blackberry line, which had very similar functionality. Apple took an existing market that was healthy but focused on niches and made the first consumer-friendly device and then marketed the hell out of it.

Props to them for their many achievements. But it's frustrating to me that people seem to think the smartphone didn't exist until it sprung fully formed from the head of Steve Jobs.

Rumor has it that it'll work seamlessly with your Apple Car and Apple TV set as well.

I don't think Apple would release a VR headset until they could call the resolution "retina". I don't know what that translates to in terms of pixel resolution but with the screen only a few centimetres away from the eyes, it would need to be pretty high.

Retina has as much technical meaning as high res

Apple gave it a specific definition. It means you can’t see the pixels, and for the average human, you can calculate it per a given screen distance.

I can't see individual pixels on my 1080p screen 18" away although 4k screens certainly look sharper. Also the term retina has been used on ranges of dpi even on the same category of device.

Because retina is a brand meaning nicer display anything else is purely marketing kool aid having nothing to do with reality.

One thing for sure: they are working on something really big, and have been for some time now. Apple believes in focusing on things that matter, often to the exclusion of everything else. When they get real quiet and only release minimal spec bump upgrades you know something big is coming. That said, there’s no way this will be 16k right off the bat. By third gen, maybe, but not right off the bat.

IMHO, they have simply bought Vrvana and let them work further, for who knows which time targets. And even if those working on the experiments have fixed and shorter-time goals, it doesn't mean that a finished product will actually be delivered to the market. But the rumors spread, which is in the interest of a lot of media:


Additionally, typically the "other players" in the given field like to support the rumors that what they want to deliver is also "the next thing from Apple" too. More than once I've read claims that "Apple is producing" the features of iPhone that more matched the short-time next that was released by Samsung then what Apple actually produced, typically much later, even some years later.

I’ve read that reality is around 88 million pixles. This gives you around 33m pixels per eye. Getting close, although I think you also need some fantastic frame rates and contrast ratios, the obviously some pretty powerful computers rendering all of this. It seems like we have to make 4-6 major technology steps to get where we want to be, each taking 2-3 years.

Believe it when I see it.

that's not really hard to believe...

Like the car and TV and the new thing each couple of weeks that never happens?

I think that you meant the new battery with 10x the capacity of lithium-ion batteries...

But in this case I have no trouble believing...

Apple need an edge somewhere... they were the first to come up with retina display, afterall...

Apple did not create the retina display. They purchased the displays.

Still true today they buy them.

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