AR/VR evangelist predicts a ‘smart glasses’ announcement from Apple this year

AR/VR evangelist Robert Scoble has tweaked his predictions about an Apple partnership with Carl Zeiss on a pair of smart glasses, and is predicting an announcement of the technology possibly as early as the middle of 2017, reports AppleInsider.

He thinks that such an announcement could be in conjunction with an Apple headquarters announcement, or possibly the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. Scoble expects a very lightweight pair of glasses, with the electronics on other places on your body, such as in an iPhone or other wearable.

Zeiss currently markets the VR One Plus, a headset with special optics that turns almost any smartphone into a virtual or augmented reality system. Similar products, commonly called viewers, are available from Samsung and Google. 

There’s evidence that Apple is conducting AR/VR systems research behind closed doors, including numerous filed and granted patents covering virtual displays, augmented reality and computer vision.

In 2015 Apple was granted a patent for VR goggles that would use an iPhone as the display unit. The invention is for a "head-mounted display apparatus for retaining a portable electronic device with display." It would allow you to connect an iPhone to a GoPro-ish head mount for viewing media on a private display. The invention would allow users to couple and decouple a portable electronic device with a separate head-mounted device. 

Another patent filing indicates that Apple has considered a 3D imaging and display system that would work with Macsand iOS devices, and which would scan and display simultaneously. Yet another patent filing describes a device for “projecting a source image in a head-mounted display apparatus for a user” to deliver “an enhanced viewing experience.

What’s more, Apple has been scooping up VR/AR related companies, such as Emollient, a startup that uses artificial-intelligence technology to read people’s emotions by analyzing facial expressions. In November 2015 the company acquired Faceshift, which makes a facial motion capture system. 

In May 2015 Apple purchased Metaio, a company makes Metaio Creator, an AR authoring tool. In 2013, Apple bought PrimeSense, an Israeli maker of chips that enable three-dimensional (3D) machine vision.