Every few months we get a new rumour on Apple’s augmented reality (AR) glasses. The latest one is that the specs will hit the market in 2022.
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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 have been in exploration phase at least since 2016. Reportedly hundreds are 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 awkward looking and ended up receiving criticism and legislative action due to privacy and safety concerns. Subsequent reports said Apple’s first AR glasses will look a lot more like traditional glasses, with subtle hardware elements adding technical smarts.
It is expected they will 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 will ultimately replace the iPhone.
Last summer, DigiTimes reported the Cupertino outfit has “temporarily stopped developing AR/VR headsets.”. They suggest the project was halted back in May 2019 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.
It seems work has picked up again as now the same source is citing the year 2022 as when the AR specs will launch. Apparently suppliers are ramping up development.
“Taiwan-based optical component suppliers are engaged in the development of Apple’s augmented reality smart glasses, which may be commercialised by 2022, according to industry sources.”
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.
The latest rumour sounds credible as it jives with other sources. Previous reports from The Information and Bloomberg stated the Cupertino outfit is developing two products. The first a combination AR/VR glasses due for release in 2022. This will be followed by a proper AR headset in 2023 designed to be worn all day. According to the reports, the product is expected to be lightweight, and resemble premium sunglasses with thick frames.
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.
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