Rumor: Apple will release an AR headset no later than 2019

Key Apple assembler Quanta Computer says augmented reality (AR) will bring huge business opportunities, adding that a “significant” AR device will be released no later than 2019, according to Nikkei Asian Review. That device is expected to come from Apple.

“We are working on an AR project and have studied the optical technologies that AR devices have needed since two years ago,” Quanta Vice Chairman C.C. Leung told reporters after the Taiwanese manufacturer’s earnings conference. He said the wearable will be a “headset-like gadget with a fully transparent lens that allows users to see through and interact with the environment.”

Most pundits are betting on Apple releasing an AR headset. In a June blog post, venture capitalist Gene Munster said iPhone growth will peak in fiscal year 2019, then slowly decline as “Apple Glasses” emerge. He thinks those glasses, an AR-focused wearable, will be released mid-fiscal year 2020. 

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In March, Bloomberg said Apple is working on several AR products, including digital spectacles that could connect wirelessly to an iPhone and beam content—movies, maps and more—to the wearer. While the glasses — which I’ve dubbed “iGlasses” -- are a ways off, AR features could show up in the iPhone sooner, the article adds.

Apple is more interested in AR than virtual reality (VR), because the former connects people whereas the latter is often an isolating experience involving a headset that renders the user blind to the real world.

Apple has applied for multiple patents regarding AR and scooped up some AR-related companies. In 2015, the tech giant purchased Metaio, a company makes Metaio Creator, an AR authoring tool. Metaio says it allows for quick and easy creation and deployment of AR scenarios that are based on the latest tracking technologies. 

In 2013, Apple bought PrimeSense, an Israeli maker of chips that enable three-dimensional (3D) machine vision. The chip's 3D sensors are designed to enable nature interaction between people and devices and between devices and their surroundings. Its machine vision products map out 3D environments and track movements of bodies, faces and facial expressions.