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Apple CEO Tim Cook. 

Apple CEO Tim Cook. 

Photo illustration: 731; Photo: Reuters/Redux

Apple’s New Headset Meets Reality

The device has strayed from Tim Cook’s original vision, but it will still define the field.

Many times throughout its history, Apple Inc. has redefined consumer technology by breathing new life into an existing category of gadgetry that has yet to fulfill its promise. On June 5, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook will take the virtual stage at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference and try to do for mixed-reality headsets what his company has previously done for music players, smartphones, smartwatches and earbuds. Despite Apple’s track record, an air of doubt surrounds the device, expected to be sold under the Reality name. It will run on a new xrOS operating system and cost about $3,000. Billions of dollars of investment into computers you wear on your face from the tech industry’s largest companies and well-funded startups have yet to produce a breakout success.

The device Cook will present, say people familiar with a development process that spread over seven years, has deviated far from his initial vision. Initially imagined as a pair of unobtrusive eyeglasses that could be worn all day, Apple’s device has morphed into a headset that resembles a pair of ski goggles and requires a separate battery pack.