Perhaps the Apple Watch was merely the beginning of Apple’s foray into the ever evolving world of wearables. Citing sources purportedly familiar with Apple’s plans, Bloomberg reports that Apple is currently exploring the idea of releasing digital glasses similar, in a broad sense, to what Google released just a few years ago.
The smart glasses Apple is said to be developing will reportedly lean heavily on augmented reality and will present information to wearers by relaying information gleaned from a user’s iPhone. Still in the very early stages of development, Apple has already ordered “small quantities of near-eye displays from one supplier for testing.”
If development proceeds swimmingly, the report claims that we could see a pair of smart glasses from Apple on store shelves as early as 2018.
The glasses may be Apple’s first hardware product targeted directly at AR, one of the people said. Cook has beefed up AR capabilities through acquisitions. In 2013, Apple bought PrimeSense, which developed motion-sensing technology in Microsoft Corp.’s Kinect gaming system. Purchases of software startups in the field, Metaio Inc. and Flyby Media Inc., followed in 2015 and 2016.
Apple’s interest in smart glasses comes at an interesting time. While Google Glass wearers were ridiculed if not downright shunned, the recent release of Snapchat’s Spectacles signals that the world may be more welcoming of connected glasses than they were when Google first entered the fray a few years ago.
It’s also worth noting that Tim Cook has been unusually vocal with regards to hyping up augmented reality related technologies, even going so far as to say that Apple is “high on augmented reality for the long run.” For a company that’s as notoriously tight-lipped as Apple, Cook’s remarks are rather telling.
Adding some more credence to Bloomberg’s report, you might recall that reputed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo just one month ago said that Apple will release an AR related device in just one to two years. What’s more, Kuo added that Apple’s technology could very well be so sophisticated as to leapfrog all rival products by three to five years.