Apple AR/VR headset is reportedly 'approaching liftoff' — watch out Oculus!

Apple VR
Apple VR (Image credit: Apple)

Apple's AR/VR headset has reportedly been in the works for years, but according to a Morgan Stanley note to clients (spotted by Investor's Business Daily), Apple is finally placing proverbial wings on its technologically advanced eyewear — it's ready for takeoff.

MacRumors says the inundation of virtual reality-related patents from Apple hints that the AR/VR headset is coming to market soon. Before the Cupertino-based tech giant unveiled the Apple Watch in 2014, there was an uptick of patent filings for pedometer functionality, step detection and more. Due to increased patent-filing activity for head-mounted displays, MacRumors suspects the long-awaited Apple AR/VR headset is moving forward behind the scenes.

Apple's AR/VR headset is reportedly progressing through development

Morgan Stanley analysts said that developing the Apple AR/VR headset wasn't a smooth-sailing journey. There were many obstacles, especially in regards to engineering the device.

"The enormity of the technical challenge — compressing daylong battery, 5G, compute, cameras, lidar, projectors and wave guide lenses into a lightweight, attractive pair of glasses — is hard to overstate," the investment bank said. "But we are approaching liftoff."

This aligns with a Bloomberg Businessweek report that revealed Apple's virtual-reality team often clashed on how to best engineer the AR/VR headset. One faction wanted to create a standalone, wireless headset that made compromises on high-end specs to avoid overheating while another sect preferred to develop a high-powered, wired headset that requires a small, stationary hub. As such, there was allegedly some headbutting on how to launch a market-dominating headset that still rests comfortably on consumers' faces.

Fortunately, it looks like Apple's AR/VR team have found a middle ground and is moving forward with the headset's development. "Apple's patent portfolio is beginning to mirror the period prior to the Watch launch," Morgan Stanley analysts said. In other words, Apple's current patent-filing activity for head-mounted displays matches the company's actions prior to the Apple Watch launch seven years ago.

Citing a June Harris Poll, Morgan Stanley speculates that it will be game over for competing VR brands once Apple launches its first headset. Thirty-five percent of respondents said Apple is their preferred choice for AR/VR devices, overtaking Google, Samsung, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook.

It's too early to tell whether Apple will dominate the AR/VR market. Who knows? Maybe HP or Valve will be the companies to beat. Until then, to stay abreast on all the news related to Apple's AR/VR headset, keep an eye on our oft-updated rumor hub.

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!