Apple has been playing the augmented reality or the virtual reality game slowly, at least, in terms of product releases.
However, according to news reports, Carl Zeiss and the iPhone-maker maybe joining hands to create a light pair of AR/MR glasses that is expected to be announced this year. A news report also said that a Zeiss employee has confirmed the move.
Augmented reality (AR) is the concept of putting digital images on top of real-world objects. Google Glass was an early (and failed) example of this. But that isn’t stopping others from trying. Magic Leap, a secretive startup with a major investment from Google, is supposedly cooking up a breakthrough augmented reality technology.
This year, virtual reality, augmented reality’s close cousin, is getting a big boost with headsets from Sony, Facebook-owned Oculus, and HTC.
Many believe AR and VR are the final forms of personal computing because they have the potential to almost eliminate the need for all the screens in our lives. Instead, a wearable computer will be the one gadget to rule them all.
Apple had also acquired Metaio, a company that specialized in mobile AR apps. For example, it made an app that lets you visualize where your Ikea furniture will go in your home. But Apple had to shut it down later.
Apple also recently poached HoloLens engineer Nick Thompson from Microsoft. Thompson was the audio engineering lead for Microsoft’s HoloLens project, according to his LinkedIn page. Apple hired him in 2015, as Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster first noticed in August. Thompson worked on the HoloLens for over two years, so he seems like he’d be a good candidate to help out with Apple’s AR efforts.
Apple had also bought a company that helped make the Xbox’s Kinect camera. The iPhone-maker bought Israeli company PrimeSense over two years ago. The company makes motion-detecting cameras, and its technology was used in the Kinect camera for the first Xbox. This kind of gesture recognition would be very important for an AR device since they don’t have typical handheld controllers. For example, Microsoft’s HoloLens can recognize gestures to navigate its user interface.
In other patent fillings, Apple showed off a headset that connects to the iPhone. Meanwhile, Samsung, HTC and Microsoft have been all trying to get into the virtual reality game.