Without a doubt Apple is working on new products in its $5 billion headquarters and research labs.
The company wouldn’t be as successful as it is if Apple CEO Tim Cook and his executive team weren’t constantly planning for three and five years into the future and asking themselves what computers could look like.
It seems like the company has decided it will launch a pair of smart glasses that can impose digital information onto the real world through its advanced lenses.
According to Reuters, Apple recently acquired a small Colorado based company, Akonia Holographics.
The company wasn’t very well known, and although no price was announced, it was a small purchase, unlikely to be listed in regulatory filings.
But the transaction still reveals that Apple is working on some kind of head-mounted gadget. Just look at the company’s website:
Apple usually buys companies for talent and the technology it’s working on — and it seems like this company was focused on new developments in one of the elements of smart glasses that isn’t in smartphones: the lenses.
Current smart glasses, like Magic Leap One, are bulky and have issues with display, battery life, and software. The fact that Apple is working on smart glasses shouldn’t be surprising to any investors. Apple CEO Tim Cook laid out Apple’s playbook for the technology way back in 2016, before the company ever released any augmented reality software.
Apple has bought a ton of other augmented reality companies, including one last year that worked on eye-tracking, another core technology for glasses.
And for the past two years, Apple has been highlighting augmented reality apps on the iPhone using ARKit, its software for placing digital objects in the real world.
Apple has an R&D team of hundreds working on prototypes and technologies that the glasses could eventually use.
This all is known. It’s also public that rivals like Google, Facebook, and Amazon are working on their own augmented reality technology. Buzzy billion dollar startup Magic Leap just started shipping its own glasses.
But what’s still unknown about Apple’s AR glasses is far more interesting.
Will it replace the iPhone?
What form the glasses will take is still unknown. Bloomberg previously reported that they would be an assistant device to the iPhone, similar to how the Apple Watch needs an iPhone now.
As with the iPhone and other Apple products, if the Cupertino-based giant comes up with a better way of doing something in augmented reality, you can expect the rest of the industry to follow and come up with their own versions.
So while all the puzzle pieces are coming together and pointing to Apple building its own pair of glasses, it’s how they end up working that will matter the most. We’ll know how it’s shaking out soon — some people have guessed that Apple could launch something as soon as 2020.