•Apple is building an AR headset that could arrive in early 2023.
• The company is also working on a metaverse competitor.
• Apple’s AR headset team has gained two new members with expertise in the medical and robotics industries.
It looks like Apple is finally ready to join the augmented reality party. According to a report from The Information, the tech giant is working on an AR headset that could be released as early as 2023. This news comes after Apple acquired Akonia Holographics, a company that specializes in making lenses for AR headsets, in August 2018. It’s unclear what features Apple’s AR headset will have, but it will likely be able to display digital objects and information on top of the real world. Apple has been slow to enter the AR market, but the company may be now gearing up for a major push into the space.
What is Augmented Reality?
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a step back and answer the question: what is augmented reality? Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that superimposes digital information and images onto the real world. This can be anything from a simple compass app that overlays directions onto your view of the world around you to more complex applications like Pokemon Go, which allows you to catch digital creatures in real-world locations.
Apple’s Previous Forays into AR
While Apple has been somewhat late to the game when it comes to developing its own AR products, the company has been working with AR technology for quite some time. One of the earliest examples of this was the release of the iPhone 4S in 2011, which included Siri—a voice assistant that used AR to display information on your screen in response to verbal questions or commands.
In 2016, Apple released the iPhone 7 Plus, which included two cameras side-by-side on the back of the phone. This allowed users to take advantage of a feature called Portrait Mode, which used both cameras and computer vision algorithms to create DSLR-quality depth-of-field effect in photos. More recently, in 2017, Apple released the iPhone X, which included an infrared sensor that allowed users to take advantage of Face ID—a facial recognition system that replaces Touch ID as a way to unlock your device and make purchases. While Face ID is technically not an AR application, it does use similar technology and could pave the way for future AR applications from Apple.
So far, we’ve only seen glimpses of what Apple is capable of when it comes to augmented reality. But if The Information’s report is true and an AR headset is really in development, it seems safe to say that we can expect big things from Apple in the near future. And given Tim Cook’s previous statements about his interest in AR and his belief that it will eventually be as ubiquitous as electricity or air travel*, there’s reason to believe that Apple will eventually become one of the leaders in this new and exciting field.