Apple gets ready for a new reality

I think we can all agree that there are times when the current reality could be a little…better.

For several years, Apple has talked up the potential of the augmented reality space, and more recently, there have been rumors that the company is getting ready to take those ambitions to the next level by releasing a product focused on augmented reality, virtual reality—or possibly both.

But Apple isn’t one to take on projects casually: despite the multitude of calls for Apple to enter this market or that, the company tends to be very conservative in what projects actually make it through the extensive gauntlet to become shipping products. As Steve Jobs once said, “innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

If Apple truly is ready to take the plunge into this new product area—which reports are now suggesting could happen sooner rather than later—then that’s because the company believes that it’s figured out how to bring the combined might of its hardware, software, and services to bear on a type of device that no company has cracked quite yet. Which raises the question: what the heck is this thing?

Fit to be tied (to a headset)

In trying to suss out exactly what an Apple augmented reality device would be, it can be instructive to look at which of the company’s existing products might tie in well with such a product. And you don’t have to look too far to see that the space Apple is probably most excited about these days is health and fitness.

The Apple Watch was the company’s first big foray into this market, but more recently it’s added Apple Fitness+ to the mix, which gives the whole segment that heady mix of hardware, software, and services that it so likes to tout. Given that the Apple Watch falls into the same “wearables” category that a headset likely would, it’s not hard to imagine that a putative augmented reality device might tie in to health as well.

apple fitness data Apple

Apple Fitness+ is an obvious AR fit.

Imagine, for example, an augmented reality headset—in the form of lightweight glasses, hopefully—that would give you a heads-up view of your vitals while working out, the same way you can get that information at a glance from your Apple Watch, but more convenient. Or an AR projection of your trainer who can keep you on target, even if you’re not staring at a screen—even when you’re out on a run.

In addition to fitness-related information, it’s unclear whether or not there are other health features Apple could deploy in such a device—think additional sensors, like those in the APple Watch—to even more closely integrate it with other offerings, but it certainly seems like something the company would be investigating.