Earlier this week, a patent detailing augmented reality technologies for the iPhone also described AR glasses that would be able to display AR content. The accessory would even allow users to interact with the digital layer of information shown on the glasses by hand gestures that would be perceived by the camera.
I wrote at the time that AR glasses made by Apple might be the kind of device that would “kill” the iPhone. By killing the iPhone, I meant that smart glasses like the ones in the patent could significantly extend the capabilities of the iPhone, which won’t disappear. Instead, it may stay buried in our pockets for longer periods of time.
Apple is already rumored to be working on AR glasses that would complement the iPhone. Even if we didn’t have any rumors to go by, we’d still have a strong case for Apple-made AR glasses. It’s probably only a matter of time until Apple starts selling them as a new iPhone-connected accessory.
Writing on Above Avalon, Neil Cybart says that Apple Glasses are inevitable at this point. All the pieces are in place, and the glasses are a natural evolution of the technology Apple proposes.
Apple’s interest in AR is more than clear. ARKit has enormous potential, but there’s a drawback, one that I pointed out recently. We’ll have to keep holding iPhones and iPads in front of our eyes to enjoy AR directions or AR games. That experience can be pretty limited because there’s only so much screen.
Apple Glasses, however, would fix all that, increasing the usability of AR. “Virtual turn-by-turn directions are destined for AR glasses as it’s just not ideal to have to hold up a smartphone in front of our face as we are walking down the street,” Cybart says. The same goes for any AR app that requires extensive use.
Some will be quick to point out that Google already created such glasses, and they failed to become popular with consumers. That’s true. But Google’s Glasses were cumbersome gadgets that were ahead of their time regarding design, usability, and platform.
Apple has been slowly advancing its AR-related game by purchasing a myriad of companies that will all play a hand in its AR future. It’s also about to deploy software on iPhones and iPads that will make AR popular and accessible long before the first-gen Apple Glass arrives.
And when that happens, the AR glasses Apple makes will be devices that users want to wear, just as is the case with the Apple Watch, which represented the main priority for Apple in previous years.
Cybart notes that, just like the Watch, Apple Glasses would represent a fashion statement. They’ll have a great design that will look nothing like current smartphone-connected headsets for VR/AR, and they’ll be highly customizable, just like the Watch. Furthermore, it’s very likely Apple Glasses will be ready to use with prescription lenses. After all, so many people use regular dumb glasses that already enhance reality for them by improving their vision. Adding a layer of virtual objects on top of them seems only logical.
And yes, Tim Cook and Jony Ive did voice their concerns regarding smart eyes wearables in previous years. But that was at a time when the Watch was a priority, and when iOS did not have the capabilities of delivering a great AR experience. The shift inside Apple toward AR and the inevitable glasses that come with it is pretty clear. And we won’t have to wait too long to get them.
Cybart’s analysis of Apple’s future Glasses is probably right on the money, and you should check it out at this link.