Apple and Foxconn have reached a key milestone in the development of Apple's long-rumored augmented reality headset, with the semitransparent lenses for the device moving from prototype to trial production, reports The Information.
Apple is developing the lenses on a single production line at a Foxconn factory in Chengdu in southwestern China, where most of Apple’s iPad production is centered, the person said.
Apple has multiple phases in the development of new products, starting with periods of prototyping in California and China, during which it makes dozens and hundreds of units, respectively, of the products and their parts. As of May, the lenses had entered a stage known as engineering validation test, or EVT, during which Apple typically makes thousands of units, said the person familiar with the matter. During that period, Apple has locked down the design and begins testing its suitability for mass production.
The report indicates that the lenses (and thus the headset itself) are still at least a year or two away from mass production, and various rumors have pointed toward a launch around 2022.
A recent report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman indicated that Apple's AR and VR projects have been hampered by internal divisions over whether Apple should emphasize graphics and processing power in a design that would connect wirelessly to a nearby hub or a more personal approach with lesser capabilities but which can be contained entirely within the headset.
Apple is said to have multiple AR and VR projects in the works beyond the initial headset, known by the code name of N301, with a sleeker pair of AR glasses known as N421 that could launch in 2023.