Apple's rumored AR headset might arrive without physical controllers

Apple Glass
(Image credit: Future)

Apple could be looking to shake things up with its long-rumored augmented reality headset by employing 3D sensors for hand tracking, potentially eliminating the need for traditional physical controllers.

As reported by The Verge, reputable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo's research notes on the Apple AR headset suggest that the rumored device could feature fully 3D hand tracking, and a user interface that detects and makes use of physical objects in your immediate surroundings.

This supports earlier reports that the Apple AR headset may be able to turn physical surfaces into touchscreens that users can interact with.

"We predict that the structured light of the AR/MR headset can detect not only the position change of the user or other people’s hand and object in front of the user's eyes but also the dynamic detail change of the hand," Kuo writes.

"Capturing the details of hand movement can provide a more intuitive and vivid human-machine UI (for example, detecting the user's hand from a clenched fist to open and the balloon in hand flying away)."

It all sounds rather advanced, and indeed, Kuo's notes state that the device might employ four sets of 3D sensors to support the hand-tracking feature.

No controllers at all?

There's no mention as to whether the Apple AR headset could support physical controllers as well – though going without would mark a clear move away from popular headsets on the market right now, like the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset and the business-oriented Kiber 3, both of which rely on physical controllers for most functions.

Apple's AR headset has been rumored to launch in 2022, though Kuo notes that a "significantly lighter" model could be made available a couple years later, in 2024. And with the debut device expected to weigh in at around 300-400 grams, the follow-up headset could well be as light as a feather.

Rhys Wood
Hardware Editor

Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.