Apple has just acquired Akonia Holographics, a small firm dedicated to making lenses for augmented reality glasses. Which, of course, adds fuel to the “Apple is developing AR glasses” fire.
This is a fire that’s been burning for years. We first reported on Apple’s AR ambitions back in 2016:
“Apple is experimenting with digital glasses with a view to expanding its product portfolio. A few insiders familiar with Apple’s plans have revealed that the secret project is still in an “exploration phase,” though components have been ordered from suppliers to create prototypes.”
Then, in 2017, an Apple patent covering augmented reality surfaced:
“Where the patent gets interesting is the repeated references to a “semi-transparent screen” and “head-mounted display.” Combined, these could create a headset or, more likely, a pair of glasses, that would allow for these projections to appear right in front of your vision. As well as mixed reality interactions with the local environment, this could provide a heads-up display for viewing message notifications and other information.”
Fast forward to 2018, and Apple analysts started making predictions:
“Kuo expects we will see a set of AR-enabled smart glasses from Apple as soon as 2020. With ARKit maturing at a pretty fast rate, that’s not too crazy an expectation.”
All things considered, since the successful release of ARKit with iOS 11 last year, it seems more likely than ever that Apple is interested in starting a new wearable product line. Whether its smart glasses make it to market depends on how well the research, development, and testing phases go – but Apple’s acquisition of an expert in the field signifies its taking things seriously. Watch this space.