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One of Apple’s top hardware executives is now in charge of its VR headset

Published Feb 8th, 2021 10:26PM EST
Apple Glasses
Image: Apple

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  • Last month, Apple announced that veteran Dan Riccio, the company’s senior vice president of hardware engineering, would be replaced by John Ternus. Riccio would remain at Apple and work on a mysterious new project, reporting directly to Tim Cook.
  • A new report says that Riccio will now focus entirely on developing AR and VR glasses at Apple, products that appeared in a variety of rumors recently.
  • A few days ago, a report said that Apple would launch a mixed-reality device before the AR glasses, with the expensive headset expected to feature more sophisticated hardware than more affordable VR devices that usually target gamers.

Last month, Apple announced that John Ternus would replace veteran Dan Riccio, who was stepping down to oversee a mysterious “new project,” without revealing any details. Riccio has been with the company since 1998, leading Apple’s hardware engineering department since 2012. It’s not unprecedented for Apple to announce such reshuffling without providing more insight about new job descriptions. The company is famous for its culture of secrecy, the latest example being the rumored Apple Car project. Hyundai and Kia are no longer in talks with Apple after the iPhone maker was upset that Hyundai mistakenly confirmed early negotiations.

The Apple Car is just one of the exciting new product categories that Apple is developing behind closed doors. According to recent reports, Augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headsets are also in the works at Apple. A new report indicates that Riccio will lead the company’s AR and VR devices now that he’s no longer head of hardware engineering.

Sources familiar with Apple’s plans disclosed to Bloomberg that Riccio would be overseeing the team developing the AR and VR headsets. Riccio was already responsible for this team under his previous job, but he’s now going to focus solely on this project. The AR/VR team is led by Mike Rockwell, with over a thousand engineers working on the devices.

“I’m looking forward to doing what I love most — focusing all my time and energy at Apple on creating something new and wonderful that I couldn’t be more excited about,” the Apple executive said in a statement on January 25th, when Apple announced the reshuffle.

The report notes that Apple’s work on its first headset, a high-end VR device with AR capabilities, faces development issues. Riccio is expected to help with the project. A few days ago, a report detailed this mixed-reality (MR) device, indicating that the gadget would have high-end specs, including a dozen cameras, eye-tracking tech, and dual 8K displays. The device would cost around $3,000. Bloomberg makes no mention of the capabilities or specs of the device.

The story also indicates that the group working on in-house displays and camera technology is being moved under Johny Srouji, the executive heading Apple’s processor team.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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