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Apple’s AR patent: Augmented Reality smart glasses on the horizon?

An interesting Apple patent has just surfaced, one that hints at a future product line for the company: smart glasses.

As discovered by Patently Apple, the patent describes an interface in which graphical elements are overlaid onto a real-world scene in real time. This could be used on an iPhone or iPad to display information about points of interest when navigating a city, for example – so far, so simple.

This kind of thing will be possible in iOS 11 with ARKit

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.

Apple’s patent for a semi-transparent head-mounted display

It’s worth remembering that rivals Google have dabbled with smart glasses before, and Google Glass wasn’t exactly a hit. But Apple’s embrace of augmented reality tech in iOS 11 could see much wider adoption of this kind of tech, and maybe in a few years time, the world will be ready for wearable smart tech.

Of course, patents don’t always translate into finished products. At the very least, though, we know that Apple is exploring the possibility of a new product line for your face.