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New leak sheds light on Apple’s secretive ‘smart glasses’ project

Published Jun 4th, 2017 1:23PM EDT
Apple Smart Glasses
Image: Shutterstock

Over the weekend, a Reddit user with the handle Foxconninsider released a treasure trove of information regarding a number of new products Apple has in the pipeline. While most of the Reddit AMA seemed to focus on upcoming iPhones and an assortment of Mac hardware, there was also some interesting information divulged regarding Apple’s rumored smart glasses.

The notion that Apple has been exploring smart glasses with augmented reality features is certainly nothing new. On the contrary, in recent months we’ve seen a handful of reports from exceedingly credible sources indicating that Apple’s smart glasses initiative is very much real. Not too long ago, for example, the Financial Times — which has a solid track record with respect to Apple rumors — published a report claiming that Apple was interested in taking its smart glasses project “from a science project towards a consumer product.”

All the while, other reports have relayed that Apple’s AR team continues to grow and now includes hundreds of researchers and engineers with varying experience in relevant fields like head-mounted displays, optics and more. What’s more, it’s also been reported that many of Apple’s AR engineers previously worked on Facebook’s Oculus Rift and Microsoft’s HoloLens headset.

Suffice it to say, Apple’s exploration into the field of smart glasses is very real. With that said, the purported Foxconn insider divulged an extensive amount of new information about the ultra-secretive project. With the AMA now closed, we went back and scoured every question and answer we could find about Apple’s mythical smart glasses. Of course, everything should be taken with a requisite grain of salt, but that’s simply par for the course in the world of Apple rumors.

With the standard disclaimer out of the way, let’s get this thing rolling.

According to Foxconninsider, Apple’s smart glasses — at least in its current incarnation — uses a prism to convey an image to the lens with a resolution of 428×240. As far as interacting with the device itself, Apple’s smart glasses are outfitted with a microphone for Siri control and an accelerometer that can presumably register commands when a user moves his or her head in a certain direction. Additionally, it features a “small capacitive strip” for accepting calls and adjusting the volume.

Interestingly, the current Apple smart glasses reportedly do not include a camera due to design and battery life considerations. The product can house both polarized and prescription lenses and, if ever released, will be available in different sizes for both men and women. Some of the colored frames Foxconninsider claims to have seen include crystal, champagne, and black.

Based on the bill of materials, the Foxconninsider believes Apple’s smart glasses might cost as much as $600.

Rough bill of materials of Project Mirrorshades – Apple Iris

Kopin NED Acetate frame Polarisized or prescription lens with Zeiss smart optics Bone induction modules Microphones (noise cancellation) Light sensor Accelerometer for step tracking and head movement app navigation Magnetometer for navigation Capacitive Pavel Ceramic battery Apple chipset Charging circuit BL5 Induction module

The million dollar question, though, is whether or not the current prototype will ever become a viable and shipping product. To this point, our fearless leaker claims that there’s a 65% chance the entire smart glasses project might be scrapped altogether.

When asked why we should even care about Apple smart glasses, the leaker said that it is a very unique design and that “if it can be done properly” it will “be like what the iPhone did 10 years ago.”

When asked how she came up with the 65% figure, the leaker answered: “Yield rate and amount of other products they scrap in new areas. Apple experiments a lot, 65% of these products never reach consumers.” She later added that manufacturing a flexible battery is difficult at scale and that the device’s display prism also has some technical hurdles Apple has to contend with.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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