Apple to release mixed reality headset in 2022, analyst predicts

Ming-Chi Kuo also sees AR-connected contact lenses in Apple's future.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook has indicated the company is preparing for a big future in AR.

Connie Guglielmo/CNET

Apple will make its long-rumored foray into the AR/VR market place with the release of a mixed reality headset market in 2022, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reportedly said in a note to investors on Sunday.

"We predict that Apple's MR/AR product roadmap includes three phases: helmet type by 2022, glasses type by 2025, and contact lens type by 2030–2040," Kuo wrote in the note, obtained by MacRumors. "We foresee that the helmet product will provide AR and VR experiences, while glasses and contact lens types of products are more likely to focus on AR applications."

Apple CEO Tim Cook has indicated the company is preparing for a big future in AR, saying it's a technology that's potentially as important as the iPhone. Apple unleashed a number of AR tools at its WWDC developer conference in 2019, including a whole AR-making toolkit called Reality Composer.

Read more: Apple's VR headset could be the road to glasses: The latest rumors and reports

Prototypes of the headset currently weigh between 200 and 300 grams, but that could be reduced  by  100 to 200 grams "If Apple can solve significant technical problems," Kuo wrote, adding that he expects the headset to retail for about $1,000 in the US.

Echoing previous rumors, Kuo also wrote that the headset would use Sony's Micro-OLED displays and several optical modules to provide an "immersive experience that is significantly better than existing VR products."

On the augmented reality side, Kuo said Apple would release AR glasses no sooner than 2025 because it has "no prototype yet," but he expects them to provide an "optical see-through AR experience."

Kuo also predicted Apple would release contact lenses with AR capabilities sometime at 2030, with a focus on "invisible computing."

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.