Ever since Apple released the iPad, many across the tech industry have openly wondered what Apple’s next big tech breakthrough will be. Sure, the company released the Apple Watch in 2014, but that device, thus far, has been more of a niche product than a revolutionary mass market device bringing in boatloads of cash.
Yesterday, a curious and new Apple rumor emerged. According to Bloomberg, Apple is seriously exploring the idea of developing a pair of smart glasses that can present users with pertinent information via a connected iPhone.
Apple researches new products and technologies all the time, and it’s no secret that many early-stage Apple research projects don’t often result in a shipping product; remember when Apple was supposedly going to release a car by 2019? Nonetheless, I find this particular rumor about Apple smart glasses to be much more plausible than most rumors regarding Apple’s varied R&D initiatives.
I’m not necessarily saying that releasing smart glasses is a smart strategic play, but more so that the logistics involved in bringing such a product to market make this specific rumor much more believable than most Apple rumors we’ve seen lately.
For starters, societal acceptance of wearing electronic devices on one’s head has shifted, as evidenced by the growing number of VR headsets and the recent release of Snap Inc’s Spectacles. Two, developing a pair of smart glasses is more within Apple’s area of expertise than, say, developing a car. And three, Apple CEO Tim Cook has been rather vocal about augmented reality being an area of technology worth exploration.
Just this past summer, for example, Tim Cook said that Apple views augmented reality as a “core” technology that Apple is already doing a lot of work with behind the scenes.
“I think AR is extremely interesting and sort of a core technology,” Cook said. “So, yes, it’s something we’re doing a lot of things on behind that curtain that we talked about.”
On a related note, Cook in an earnings conference call this year said that Apple is “high on augmented reality for the long run” while adding that the potential for “AR can be huge.” And in case you need any more convincing, Cook just just a few weeks said that he sees more long-term potential in AR than in VR and that he views the technology as “profound.”
“[AR and VR] are incredibly interesting,” Cook said. “My own view is that augmented reality is the larger of the two, probably by far, because this gives the capability for both of us to sit and be very present talking to each other, but also have other things visually for both of us to see.”
On top of that, Apple has filed a number of intriguing AR-related patents has has also made some notable AR-related hires recent months. To the latter point, Apple this past September hired two new engineers with deep backgrounds in augmented reality projects.
And last but not least, reputed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo this month issued a research report claiming that Apple plans to integrate augmented reality into its products in just one to two years, at a minimum.