Apple’s AR glasses just hit a key developmental milestone

  • Apple’s rumored AR glasses recently hit a key developmental milestone
  • Apple’s AR glasses may arrive as soon as 2022.
  • Tim Cook has long been a fan of Augmented Reality and believes the technology’s impact could rival that of the iPhone.

Amid rumors that Apple may release a pair of Augmented Reality-powered glasses in early 2022, a new report from The Information relays that work on the highly anticipated product continues to move forward. The report specifically claims that a key developmental milestone was recently reached as semitransparent lenses for the device recently “passed the prototype stage and entered trial production.”

The report indicates that mass production is still a good two years away, which aligns with previous reports we’ve seen. Of course, there’s no guarantee Apple’s AR glasses will hit the market given that the entire project has been subject to various delays in recent years. There was even a brief period of time, rumor has it, where Apple canceled the project altogether.

That notwithstanding, The Information adds:

The lenses use a polarized system, similar to the technology in 3D movie glasses, which create the illusion of depth using stereoscopic images, the person said. The technology is similar to that in other AR and VR devices already on the market from Microsoft, Magic Leap and Facebook…

The person said making the AR lenses is especially challenging because they are composed of multiple, extremely thin layers of different synthetic materials, each of which is susceptible to bubbles, scratches and other marks. To reduce defects, the lenses must be manufactured in dust-free zones known as clean rooms.

Apple reportedly has upwards of 1,000 employees currently working the project. You might also recall that code in an iOS 13 build from last September contained references to AR-based applications and devices.

As to what type of functionality Apple’s AR glasses will bring to the table, the device will include a microphone to allow users to call Siri into action and, of course, field and make calls. There are also indications that the device will ship with a built-in accelerometer so that the device can register commands when a user moves his or her head in a particular direction.

The first incarnation of Apple AR glasses will likely not include a camera due to battery life and design considerations. Subsequent models, however, may feature a camera module.

Design-wise, it’s believed that Apple’s AR glasses will support both polarized and prescription lenses. Further, different sizes will be available for both men and women. Aesthetically, rumor has it that the product will look like a regular pair of glasses with thicker than average frames which will contain the battery and assortment of chips.

It’s far too soon to know how much Apple’s AR glasses might cost, but an alleged Foxconn insider a few years ago suggested it might be in the range of $600.

Incidentally, Tim Cook has long been a champion of Augmented Reality, with the Apple CEO a few years ago stating that it remains a “core technology” Apple continues to invest in.

“I think AR is extremely interesting and sort of a core technology,” Cook said back in 2016. ” So, yes, it’s something we’re doing a lot of things on behind that curtain that we talked about.”

All told, it will be interesting to see how the market reacts to Apple’s AR Glasses if and when it’s released. Recall that Google Glass, while intriguing, was more of a gimmick with few real-world applications. In turn, Google Glass didn’t gain any traction in the market. If Apple’s AR glasses, in contrast, can prove itself to be more than a gimmick, perhaps Apple will have another breakout hit on its hands.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.

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