Apple Inc. is taking seriously what could mean its entrance to the digital glasses world. As reported by Bloomberg, Apple is working on a pair of smart glasses and the preparation of Augmented Reality technology that operates on this new device.

According to sources from Bloomberg, this product could see the light in 2018 at the earliest. The project has advanced as the negotiations with potential suppliers already begun. Apple has ordered small quantities of near-eye displays available for testing, but this isn’t enough to start thinking that the company is going to start its mass production at the moment.

Tim Cook
In an extensive interview with The Washington Post, Tim Cook discussed the future of the company and the dropping incomes that the iPhone is getting since last year. Photo credit: The Washington Post

They are currently exploring the possible features that this device might have like a wireless connection to iPhones in order to reduce the weight of the glasses, the ability to show pictures in the user field of vision, and the use of augmented reality technology.

Apple’s innovation

Tim Cook, Apple´s CEO, has expressed his enthusiasm and interest on the augmented reality technology. After the Pokemon-Go blast, which is a location-based game that is made especially for the exploit of AR, Cook established a company’s future objective on this kind of technology.

This glasses might be the first approach that Apple made toward Augmented Reality, and the company has prepared for this moment. In 2013, Apple acquired PrimeSense, a division in charge of the motion-sensing technology used in Microsoft’s Kinect. Also, in 2015 and 2016, Apple purchased some software startups in this field, specifically Metaio Inc. and Flyby Media Inc.

Apple already has a series of patents on this matter. It has a patent for both augmented reality in street view in mapping apps and for smart glasses that make use of full-fledged virtual reality. Although, according to Cook’s declarations made in October, is almost certain that Apple will not leverage VR in a mass-consumer product.

“AR can be really great, and we have been and continue to invest a lot in this (…) We are high on AR for the long run. We think there are great things for customers and a great commercial opportunity,” Cook said in a conference in July.

The current Apple objective is to fit all this technology inside a comfortable pair of internet-connected good looking glasses.

Google Glass failure and lessons to be taken

Google tried to do pretty much what now are Apple’s plans. Their attempt to make a pair of Internet-connected glasses for the first time ever was not successful. Some reasons might be because of the small battery that lasted very short, because it suffered privacy backlash in relation to video recording or because its external design was not the best to public’s perception.

After this huge disappointment, tech companies went from looking with high expectations the Augmented Reality field, to look toward Virtual Reality promising area. Facebook Inc. introduced their Virtual Reality unit Oculus while teaming up with Samsung Electronics Co. on a similar headset. Also, Google presented their first Virtual Reality headset alongside the new Pixel smartphone. Even Snapchat launched their first video camera sunglasses just last week.

Nonetheless, it’s Microsoft who has the most valuable and public AR device in the market. Their Hololens, released this year, shows holographic images in the person’s field of sight.

Apple’s challenges

Is not for another year or two that Apple could actually get the components that they need in order to produce the desirable product. The batteries, chips, and other materials are not small or powerful enough to build the glasses that supports the complexity of AR experiences. However, the objectives seem very clear when it comes to future actions to be taken.

“I can’t imagine everyone in here getting in an enclosed VR experience while you’re sitting in here with me, but I could imagine everyone in here in an AR experience right now,” Cook said at an event in Utah.

This company is famous for turning what may seem tough into simpler and easier actions, devices, services, and technologies. It happened one time when fingerprint technology was entering the digital world, and Apple turned it into an unlocking mechanism for the iPhone. The question is if it can make simpler and easier this new complex technology. In the year 2018, at the soonest, the tech world will find out.

Source: Bloomberg