Rumor: Apple experimenting with various types of AR glasses

Apple is experimenting with various types of augmented reality (AR) glasses, according to the Financial Times (which requires a subscription). Some use their own integrated display; others work with an iPhone.

I’d bet on the latter. Apple has applied for several patents regarding AR. For instance, patent number 9,482,869 is for a “head-mounted display apparatus” for retaining a portable electronic device with display.”

Similar to patent number 8,957,835, it’s for VR goggles that would connect with an iPhone. It seems to involve connecting an iPhone (or perhaps an iPod touch) to a GoPro-ish head mount for viewing media on a private display.

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. The tech giant has 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.

The market for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) smartglasses will approach $7 billion by 2019, predicts the IDTechEx research group. Let’s face it: right now, if you were walking around in public with bulky smartglasses on, folks would simply think you were weird. However, those glasses will get slimmer and, yes, smarter, and I have no doubt Apple is watching the industry.