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Apple mixed reality headset reportedly packs 15 cameras — here’s what they’ll do

Apple Mixed Reality Headset
(Image credit: Antonio DeRosa)

Ming-Chi Kuo is back with new information about the Apple VR headset (via MacRumors). This time the Apple analyst is predicting that the headset will feature 15 optical camera modules.

Apparently 8 of those 15 modules will be used for see-through augmented reality features, and a further 6 will be used for “innovative biometrics." The final lens will be there for “environmental detection”.

Kuo has already been talking about Apple’s mixed-reality headset this week. He corroborated previous reports that the headset was designed as a precursor to the augmented reality Apple Glasses, and was due to arrive sometime in mid-2022. He also predicted that they would cost $1,000, which is significantly lower than the $3,000 price tag that had been rumored previously.

We knew that augmented reality would have some presence on Apple’s headset, which is why it’s “mixed reality” and not “virtual reality." But Kuo’s latest research note gives us a much better idea of how it’s going to work. 

Eight cameras for see-through features means you should get a very clear view of the world outside the headset. That should mean there’s plenty of space for you to enjoy whatever augmented reality features are available — even if you are wearing a  pair of goggles.

Kuo believes that the headset will be “significantly lighter” than VR headsets on the market, so it probably isn’t going to be as bulky as the Oculus Quest 2. Kuo himself claims that Apple is aiming to get the headset’s weight down to between 100 and 200 grams (3.5-7 ounces).

The only question we have is what Kuo means by “innovative biometrics." Based on what we’ve heard about the Apple mixed reality headset so far, we can only assume that these six lenses will be responsible for tracking your body movements. This would presumably include your hands, which should let you interact with virtual objects without needing a controller.

We’ve heard reports of body tracking being one of the headset’s main features, and optical camera lenses are one way to make that happen. Whether it will work in tandem with another array of sensors is unclear. But with rumors claiming that the Apple headset will feature external LiDAR sensors, it would make sense for Apple to utilize them in new and useful ways.

At least the “environmental detection” camera lens is pretty self-explanatory, as that will likely just prevent you from bumping into stuff.

In any case, with all those cameras and sensors supposedly on the way, it certainly sounds like Apple’s mixed reality headset could be the most advanced wearable yet. 

Tom Pritchard

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.