Around mid-2022, an unknown company, “Deep Dive LLC”, trademarked the brand “xrOS.” Normally, this wouldn’t be a huge deal, but it turns out that “Deep Dive LLC” is a shell company for Apple. Towards the end of 2022, another Apple shell company, “RealityoSystems LLC” filed for “realityOS.” Both trademark filings point to a rumor starting to unfold as truth: that Apple could be releasing an AR/VR headset.

This is in addition to rumors regarding a presentation of the AR/VR technology to the Apple board of directors, with whispers of a 2023 launch. All of these combined show that Apple is beginning to think about the AR/VR space quite seriously, and that should have Meta worried.

VR is supposed to have fantastic potential, but much of the Meta/Oculus world seems lacking. Statistics say that the Oculus 2 shipped about 9-12 million units in 2022, while the Nintendo Switch shipped about 115 million units. The Metaverse (and Oculus 2) is cooling off, partially because its promise of it is much better than the current reality. Right now, it needs to catch up to the vision – it’s hard to live up to the hype, causing a slower-than-expected adoption. All this in addition to the fact that wearing a clunky headset just isn’t something that many want to do with their spare time.

But the Metaverse and VR aren’t going away. Augmented Reality (AR) is currently shaping the Metaverse, an area where Apple can step in and dominate with an augmented reality device/wearable.

Snapchat and Facebook have lenses that you can use in their apps, but to build a robust augmented reality experience, you’d probably want a central hub to run it all from (such as an iPhone), a way to monetize it (the App Store), a way to create an immersive auditory world (AirPods) and a visual output. This AR experience grows increasingly immersive and realistic if Apple adopts the LiDAR Scanner on iPhone models.

So why AR over VR in the immediate future? For one, adoption is easier. The technology needed for an AR experience is already (as Oprah said) in a billion pockets, and new apps in the form of visual search tools can accelerate that adoption.

The 5 elements likely to drive this AR revolution in the near term?

  1. Augmented Reality lives in the “real world” and can be accessed anytime from a mobile device.
  2. Paid advertising in AR will spur increased revenue and demand due to the ease of implementation (think outdoor advertising integrations, location-based ads, and brand lenses.)
  3. Visual search, and the paid search revenue that comes with that, will drive growth.
  4. 5G networks will allow for the speed and data transfer needed to create seamless AR experiences.
  5. An Apple launch of a wearable. Apple’s sheer dominance in the hardware and software space will allow for rapid adoption and continued innovation (think AirPod sonic reality).

VR and the Metaverse completely dominated headlines and conversations in 2022, effectively silencing the AR voices. But with the Metaverse beginning to lose its shine, now is the time for AR to step into the spotlight and deliver the promise of a real, innovative, and useful augmented reality.