Bloomberg reports that Apple is developing digital glasses that will connect to your iPhone and display images, information and augmented reality content in front of your eyes – kinda like Google Glass.
According to Bloomberg’s sources, the company has ordered small quantities of near-eye displays to test its concept. However, it doesn’t seem like the company is close to bringing them to production, as the size of its orders likely won’t suffice for mass production efforts.
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It’s believed that Apple will look to launch these glasses in 2018 at the earliest, if it goes through with it at all.
Will we really be queueing up to buy Apple iGlasses soon? It’s entirely possible: CEO Tim Cook stated in July that he’s optimistic about AR, and in recent years, the company has acquired firms like PrimeSense, which developed motion-sensing technology for Microsoft Kinect, along with AR startups Metaio and Flyby Media. Apple has also been granted a patent for smart glasses with digital displays earlier this month.
In addition, Cook made it clear that he’s not keen on VR, and is more interested in delving into AR: Speaking at Utah Tech Tour in October, he noted:
I can’t imagine everyone in here getting in an enclosed VR experience while you’re sitting in here with me, but I could imagine everyone in here in an AR experience right now.
Discussing his interest in AR, Cook said:
AR is going to take a while, because there are some really hard technology challenges there,” he continued. “But it will happen, it will happen in a big way, and we will wonder when it does, how we ever lived without it. Like we wonder how we lived without our phone today.
Of course, it’s worth noting that Google’s venture into AR glasses was a colossal failure, largely because it didn’t solve a major problem for users, and according to Google X’s Astro Teller, because it was seen as a finished product when it was still mostly a prototype.
That means that the next big player in the digital glasses space will need to prove a solid use case before making the product widely available.
At the same time, Microsoft is surging ahead with its HoloLens mixed-reality headset, which allows for interacting with advanced applications – like 3D modeling tools – while also being present and aware of the physical space around you.
Plus, Snapchat’s glasses for shooting candid video and beaming them to your phone are now available. They aren’t remotely as technologically advanced as what Apple might be building, but they could serve to break down some of the stigma associated with wearable cameras.
It’ll certainly be interesting to watch the AR industry grow if Apple indeed dips its toes into the water. Until then, it’s mostly Microsoft’s game.