Apple headset will be "Macintosh moment," says former Apple XR manager
Bertrand Nepveu worked on Apple's Mixed Reality headset. He sees the company's entry into the market as a critical piece of the metaverse puzzle.
Canadian Bertrand Nepveu was the CEO and founder of the startup Vrvana, which Apple acquired in 2017 for $30 million.
Vrvana was ahead of its time, developing one of the first mixed reality headsets. This refers to a device that can handle both VR and AR. The latter by capturing the physical environment with integrated cameras and presenting it as freely manipulable digital information on the displays. The startup developed a specialized chip that performs image processing in near real time.
Mixed reality headsets are touted as the next big step in the development of spatial computing. One of the first commercially available devices is the Meta Quest Pro. Apple has been working on a mixed reality headset for many years, according to numerous reports, which will be called "Apple Reality Pro" and could be released this year.
Will the Apple factor make the difference?
Nepveu was employed by Apple between 2017 and 2021, according to his Linkedin profile. In an interview with the website Radio Canada, the mixed reality pioneer and Metaverse enthusiast talks about his time in California. About a thousand people were reportedly working on the headset at the time of his departure, says Nepveu, who now works as a tech investor.
He won't reveal details about the device, but he expects Apple's entry into the market to be a game-changer. "I always say that when Apple gets into virtual reality, it will be a Macintosh moment."
The Macintosh came out in 1984 and cost about $2,500. He said the machine showed the potential of a computer for the creative industries. All creatives wanted it, despite the high price, Nepveu said. Apple's mixed reality headset will reportedly cost between $2,000 and $3,000.
Nepveu bubbles with optimism
Nepveu thinks Apple could succeed where others like Meta have failed. That remains to be seen. So far, the company has not even announced its product. But Nepveu is convinced that the device is the missing piece of the puzzle that will make the Metaverse a success. A term strongly associated with meta, and one that Apple itself deliberately avoids.
Nepveu is very optimistic about the future of VR and AR. He is convinced that in ten years everyone will own a headset. The device will become an extension of the person, just like the smartphone is today, says Nepveu.
Such statements sound as if they come from the hype year of 2016. Experience shows that the industry develops much more slowly. The question is whether and how much the Apple factor can accelerate it. Even Apple experts like Mark Gurman are skeptical that the upcoming headset will be a resounding success in its current form.