Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday snubbed heads-up display and remote processing technology, systems Apple are rumored to adopt in a first-generation "Apple Glass" product, as inadequate for augmented reality applications.
Zuckerberg in an interview with The Verge explained that the transition from VR products like Facebook's Oculus series to portable AR setups will be an especially challenging problem for hardware manufacturers to solve.
Specifically, the AR experience will only be "good" when a pair of "normal-looking glasses" can project holograms onto real world scenes, he said. That level of sophistication will require significant computing power and is far beyond the capabilities of existing hardware.
"I don't think we're anywhere near getting all the electronics that you would need to get into a thin frame," Zuckerberg said. "But the hope would be that you can get it into more normal-looking glasses in the first part of this decade or the first half of this decade."
Facebook on Wednesday announced a next-generation untethered VR headset in Oculus Quest 2. The social media giant's VR arm also killed off the PC-connected Rift line of devices.
Apple is among a handful of major tech companies rumored to be working on head-mounted wearable displays. Some rumors suggest an initial version of the headset, dubbed "Apple Glass" by leakers, will feature a HUD-like interface as an intermediate step toward immersive environments. A report in late 2019 claimed Apple plans to release an AR headset in 2022, followed by a pair of smart glasses in 2023.
"The biggest shortcut that a lot of folks are trying to take is basically trying to not do full holograms in the world, and just show some heads-up information. I call that putting an Apple Watch on your face,'" Zuckerberg said. "I don't personally find that particularly compelling. It's not a product that we're particularly excited about making. Maybe someone else will make it. It doesn't fit the kind of social use cases that we primarily care about."
Whether Apple intends to rely solely on a HUD interface or integrate AR assets that are anchored in 3D space is at this point unclear. The latter can be considered a "true" AR system, but will likely require remote processing.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo previously predicted Apple to release a headset that offloads processing and other tasks to iPhone, leaving the glasses unit as a simple display. In May, leaker Jon Prosser added to Kuo's predictions, saying "Apple Glass" will boast a LiDAR module and support both physical and in-air gestures.
More recently, former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassee in a speculative report published on Monday guessed that Apple would release a VR headset as a first foray into the world of mixed reality devices.