Apple has temporarily discontinued effort on coming up with augmented reality (AR) glasses. The specs have reportedly been in development at least since 2016 and were expected to hit the market in 2021.
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Tim Cook previously said that AR is an area of interest for Apple, much more so than virtual reality. While virtual reality involves using a headset to create an entirely made up world, augmented reality overlays the real world with computer simulated objects. Think Pokemon Go.
We know the specs were in exploration phase. Reportedly there were hundreds employed on the project.
It was initially though the end product would look like Google Glasses – the head-mounted display that was first introduced in 2013. But Google’s failed effort was rather odd looking and ended up receiving criticism and legislative action due to privacy and safety concerns. Subsequent reports said Apple’s first AR glasses would look a lot more like traditional glasses, with subtle hardware elements adding technical smarts.
It was expected they would connect to iPhones for processing, show images and other information in the wearer’s field of vision. Apple had even talked to potential suppliers and ordered small quantities of near-eye displays.
In time the glasses would grow to be an unteathered standalone product that would include various features, including health and fitness functionality. Some say the smart specs would ultimately replace the iPhone.
Now a new report from DigiTimes Taiwan says the Cupertino outfit has “temporarily stopped developing AR/VR headsets.”. They suggest the project was halted back in May and people have been assigned to various other teams. Apparently part of the cause was the departure of Apple designer Avi Bar-Zeev in January. He was the lead of the AR glasses team at the time.
The Cupertino outfit develops many projects internally and they do not always result in a full product that goes on sale. We would be surprised if this was one of them.
Apple has been exploring VR and AR technology for over a decade now so this is a long term project. It’s fair to say the smart specs concept is yet to take off, but when it does we are sure Apple will not be sitting on the sidelines.