Like gas on an open flame, rumors and whispers have flared up in recent months around hopes of augmented reality smartglasses from Apple. But among all the false leads and unsubstantiated chatter, we finally have a credible report that some sort of Apple AR smartglasses are actually in development.
Less than a week after CEO Tim Cook proclaimed that AR "is going to change everything," Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman (a frequent source of early and reliable information regarding Apple) now reports, from anonymous sources, that the company will have an AR headset ready in 2019, with an official launch sometime in 2020.
The source also divulged that the device would run a separate version of Apple's operating system, similar to how its desktops and laptops, mobile devices, set-top boxes, and watches use separate Apple OS variants.
In recent years, Apple has assembled a team of technology and entertainment industry veterans, with resumes that include work with the HoloLens, Meta, Oculus, and NASA, among others, to work on the company's AR efforts. Along the way, Apple has also acquired a number of technology startups to contribute to these developments, including Flyby Media, whose technology contributed to the ARKit platform.
With all of this elbow grease behind AR hardware, why is it taking Apple so long? Considering Apple's track record of conceding the first place in terms of speed to market in favor of "best in show" in terms of quality, we should expect Apple to take its time to get this right.
Stepping back a bit further from these reports, some experts contend that the technology is simply not there yet in terms of the size of components, comfort of headsets, and the quality of the overall experience relative to price.
"I think people agree that this is inevitable, and all of us at some point will be enjoying very immersive AR and VR experiences, and this will be available at scale, but in our view, there are meaningful technology hurdles, especially when it comes to a great experience in AR headset and hardware technology, that have to be overcome," said Albert Kim, Head of Ericsson Ventures, in a previous interview with Next Reality.
"That could be five years, ten years, or twenty years, and it is somewhat unclear how quickly that will happen."
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Cover concept image via Evi Meyer/Facebook