Apple and Valve are two companies that have long been involved in various projects on often opposite ends of the technology spectrum. But now, they have come together on a new project which will blend their two pools of experience together to create some new products. Apparently the new project will be based in AR, not VR.
VR, or Virtual Reality, is an explosively growing industry with dozens of studios creating games and business-facing applications. Using full 3D headsets, a user can experience audiovisual output in a totally immersive environment. The technology has been used to great effect in gaming, and has really begin to come into its own in the last few years. VR still has a long way to go until we see the tech break into everyday life through innovations in education, communications and other areas outside of entertainment, which is a dream many industry insiders have.
AR, or Augmented Reality, is a concept used pretty widely in the mobile gaming space, as well as for a variety of applications and devices as a key selling point. The core idea is that a combination of geographical and telemetry data is combined with audiovisual input to create an augmented version of what the user is seeing. This is most often associated with games like Pokemon Go, which allows players to travel around their towns and cities collecting Pokemon as well as “spinning” Pokestops for loot. The games of this nature are often further fleshed out with in-game events and new game modes, like the full PvP modes heading to Pokemon Go.
So keeping this in mind, what are these two companies planning? It’s very hard to say as we really only have history and the new announcement to go on.
Valve was also working on VR projects at one point. These efforts resulted in a variety of services and products. Valve produced the Valve Index, a premium VR headset with expanded features, earlier this year in partnership with HTC. The gaming company also created the specialized SteamVR platform and the OpenVR development toolkit for use with this software. Apple on the other hand, has been relatively light on AR/VR innovations outside of the mobile space. Apple was originally working AR headsets and devices for some time according to rumors, but unceremoniously canned the operation and let the teams working on it go in May 2018.
“Apple reportedly has partnered with US game developer Valve to develop AR head-mounted display devices, which may be released in the second half of 2020 at the earliest, with Taiwan’s ODMs Quanta Computer and Pegatron said to handle the assembly job, according to industry sources,” says DigiTimes.
Speaking further on the project Apple added that, “Tim Cook believes that AR can make digital content become part of the user’s world and will be as popular as smartphones with consumers.” This gives them justification that offers an explanation for partnering with an outside company, as they don’t want to spool up a project once again after abandoning it internally. Partnering with Valve gives Apple some breathing room in terms of risk.