Despite ongoing turmoil in the virtual, augmented, mixed, and extended reality (VR/AR/MR/XR) markets, device makers are remaining strategic to realise the future dream of the Metaverse. Numerous headsets from Apple, Meta Platforms, Magic Leap, and others have faced setbacks over the last few years but remain persistent.
Apple’s venture into MR hardware has proved challenging but remains a key focus of the Cupertino-based firm as it aims to release the product this year. The company has faced a series of setbacks in the process but plans to expedite the headset’s release despite facing obstacles.
XR Today recently interviewed Emma Ritterstad, Chief Executive and Co-Founder, Warpin Reality, to discuss the future of Apple’s mixed reality (MR) headset.
Warpin Reality is a Stockholm, Sweden-based company that develops metaverse experiences for major global brands such as IKEA, Disney, H&M, and the Swedish Postal Service.
XR Today: What is your assessment of the XR industry, namely related to layoffs and product delays?
Emma Ridderstad: If we look at and take a bigger perspective of the industry, we’ve witnessed the Metaverse enter headlines in the mass media, and now this year, it’s artificial intelligence (AI).
We need a multitude of different technologies to build the Metaverse, the next generation of the Internet, and everything happening now is a work in progress. I think we will see a lot of technologies building the Metaverse, and we need to learn more about them.
I think that this is why we’re discussing them one by one to make sure that people understand and learn what they can do. For me, it’s the entire [spectrum of technologies] that will build the Metaverse.
What’s happening right now is a small drop in XR, as seen with VR and AR before, but it’s going to recover over the coming years. Humanity is learning how it can use technology to solve some of the problems it is facing, not just from the ‘bright and shiny’ new things it can provide.
Businesses are looking at tangible models behind them to work with technologies to solve real problems. These are just some of the technological shifts we are seeing.
XR Today: What are the most recent developments influencing Apple to delay its MR headset release and shutter its AR smart glasses?
Emma Ridderstad: I believe they have been affected by everything happening in the world. This ranges from the supply chains of different components, which everyone is struggling with at the moment.
Apple is also known for their quality and for releasing products ready to use from day one. [MR headsets] are a new technology for them, so they will wait until they have a product ready to go to market.
It’s important to note that, when looking at the existing market competitors such as Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 and Magic Leap, these headsets have been truly important for the industry.
We need to start working with them and similar devices to see how to use their technologies for the greater good of humanity. We will learn how to do so with these headsets but will see them, the same way we view brick phones, much differently in the next few years.
The industry is going through the same historical transformations as before, and I think it’s also amazing that people forget we’ve been through this before. People in Sweden were appalled when our TV networks switched from one channel to two. There was a big media frenzy stating, “how would our brains manage [the change]?”
Our brains will have to keep pace with the developments taking place with XR headsets, and it’s going to progress very quickly. We will definitely laugh at today’s headsets down the road.
I believe that, for today, Apple’s MR headset will likely release a very stripped-down, functional headset with an initially limited number of experiences and functionalities.
XR Today: How will Apple’s typically proprietary software and solutions help them to build interoperability for XR headsets?
Emma Ridderstad: Given the massive size of Apple’s developer community, their assets will become net assets. If you compare it to the global population of XR developers, Apple’s are much larger. I think there will be a lot of companies building amazing experiences for its MR headset.
I think interoperability is crucial as the industry progresses because it opens up the market in a completely new way. This gives us a whole new playing field, and I think it’s interesting to see [such efforts] from these tech giants.
This is something we have to consider when entering the XR market, as all technology takes a while to build supporting business models. Currently, it’s such a great opportunity in the history of humanity, where this could become the next major technological leap.
We have the chance to build both the industry as well as a genuine passion for the Metaverse and Web 3.0.
XR Today: What are your thoughts about the AR smart glasses industry?
Emma Ridderstad: We were one of the first Magic Leap developers in Europe and had been working with them for many years. We have been working and building some of the first fashion experiences on the Magic Leap, Microsoft HoloLens, and many others.
Warpin Reality is hardware-agnostic as we believe that hardware will develop at a fast pace going forward, so we want to focus on software leading into the next stage of headset design.
This is also why we should release and try out novel solutions. One of the things I’ve noticed from doing so has been that Magic Leap has such a unique field of view (FoV). Humans are conditioned to look up and down while using devices, so these changes can create a major difference in XR experiences.
I think it’s wonderful and interesting to discuss technical concerns over these devices, but I’m also very passionate about the philosophical questions that come with the Metaverse and Web 3.0.
XR Today: What do you expect from Apple’s upcoming MR headset compared to rival devices?
Emma Ridderstad: I expect simple experiences such as navigation, gaming, and social applications. However, as they’re pivoting towards businesses and enterprises, they will likely go the same path as the HoloLens and Magic Leap. This means they will back education, communications, and collaboration between companies.
We’re seeing that the different technologies building the Metaverse are very early in their development, but are still resolving some of the major hurdles companies are facing around digital twins, virtual reality, and virtual meetings.
I wanted to also ensure people can see the potential of these new technologies because they can really change and shape our future going forward. I would encourage more people across industries to generally explore these different technologies.