Morgan Stanley thinks Apple’s long-awaited AR headset is “approaching liftoff” due to a massive number of patents filed

The long-rumored Apple AR headset that would overlay computer imagery on top of the real world is reportedly “approaching liftoff,” Morgan Stanley analysts have predicted.

A still image from Apple's September 2021 “California Streaming” event video with CEO Tim Cook standing on stage in front of a huge keynote slide behind him that displays an aerial view of the Apple Park headquarters while Cook is talking enthusiastically and gesturing with his hands

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Morgan Stanley predicts that Apple’s rumored AR headset is nearing completion
  • Development apparently mirrors a period before the Apple Watch launch
  • Apple recently filed many detailed patents related to head-worn hardware

Apple AR headset is coming sooner than later

Analysts with Morgan Stanley are adamant that the rumored augmented reality (AR) accessory from Apple is nearing launch because Apple in recent months filed dozens upon dozens of patents related to augmented, virtual and mixed reality technologies. The sheer number of patents coupled with the fact that some of the features of the device leaked by Bloomberg, The Information and other sources indicate that the accessory is probably either finalized already or approaching that stage.

Seen by Investor’s Business Daily, the research note draws parallels between patent filings and Apple Watch development. The investment bank thinks that the rumored Apple AR headset is nearing launch because the company’s patent portfolio is “beginning to mirror the period prior to the Apple Watch launch.”

Apple’s entry into the eyewear market will be a game-changer for all participants as the technology gets normalized and popularized. Apple’s patent portfolio is beginning to mirror the period prior to the Watch launch.

Development has been challenging, to say the least.

“The enormity of the technical challenge—compressing daylong battery, 5G, compute, cameras, lidar, projectors and waveguide lenses into a lightweight, attractive pair of glasses—is hard to overstate,” the analysts wrote, adding that “we are approaching liftoff” (by the way, Morgan Stanley almost certainly meant “AR headset”, not an “attractive pair of glasses”).

Meta doubles-down on augmented reality

The report should be viewed in the context of Facebook parent Meta’s big bet on augmented reality and metaverse. Meta has an established foothold in this niche market thanks to its acquisition and ongoing development of the Oculus devices.

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman thinks Mark Zuckerberg’s refocusing of business strategy will put Apple and Facebook on a collision course, noting that the two companies are already competing in smartphones, mobile operating systems, web services and home devices.

“The next decade, however, could be defined by Apple’s rivalry with another Silicon Valley giant: Meta Platforms Inc.—the company known to everyone other than its own brand consultants as Facebook,” Gurman wrote in his PowerOn newsletter on Bloomberg.

When is Apple’s AR thing launching? How much will it cost?

As mentioned, some of the features of the unreleased accessory already leaked in various reports. We don’t know when Apple might release it nor do we know how much it will cost. At first, educated guesses put the asking price in the ballpark of $3000, until recently. Read: How to use augmented reality walking directions on Apple Maps

The latest reports suggest that the device could be priced at around $2,000. That’s a lot of money by anyone’s standards for an augmented reality headset, but Apple’s magic touch should make it easier to swallow.

Apple is also expected to unveil augmented reality glasses, eventually.