Apple’s new processors for Macs are based on ones it designed for virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) glasses originally. According to a report by Bloomberg, the company was working on a VR headset codenamed N301 a few years ago, which was to come with a stationary hub. While Apple dropped its plans for such a device, thanks to internal differences, “some” is being “recycled” to build its upcoming processors.
Recent reports have suggested that the company is planning to move away from processors from Intel on its Mac computers. Apple is instead going to build its own processors based on architecture from Advanced RISC Machines (ARM), which currently builds chipset architecture for nearly every mobile device.
While many have wondered how Apple will provide the same level of power as its current Intel processors when it moves to ARM, this could increase confidence in these systems. Processors meant for VR and AR are usually quite powerful and Apple could use its control over both software and hardware layers to further boost performance, something that has set its iPhones and iPads apart for years.
According to the Bloomberg report, “the N301 was initially designed to be an ultra-powerful system, with graphics and processing speeds previously unheard of for a wearable product. The processing capabilities were so advanced—and produced so much heat—that the technology couldn’t be crammed into a sleek headset.”
According to Bloomberg, the company is now working on a less powerful version of its VR headset, and the N301 looks like a smaller version of the Oculus Quest headset.
Rumours of Apple launching an AR headset have been doing the rounds for quite a while now. Recent reports suggest that the company also acquired a patent for an AR headset, and Apple has generally shown interest in this space as well.
The company already has the ARKit software, which allows developers to build AR apps for its iPhones and iPads. It even added a light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensor to its new iPad Pro, which is meant to improve the AR experience on the tablet. Bloomberg’s report also said that when the N301 headset is launched, it will have its own App Store.