Report: Apple making big bet on augmented reality for iPhone and even smart glasses


Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook hasn’t been shy about hinting that augmented reality is going to be the next big thing, the omnipresent consumer technology that we can’t and won’t live without.

Now, it’s becoming a little clearer how Cook’s vision may manifest itself in Apple products. A report in Bloomberg Monday provides a glimpse of just how Apple intends to be at the forefront of this AR revolution, and just how Tim Cook’s massive bet on AR could deliver a new technology to the masses as few companies besides Apple can do.

Last year Cook made his case as to why virtual reality will be useful in terms of education, even enthralling in terms of gaming. But he said full otherworldly simulation will be far less useful than technology that allows us to meld actual reality with virtual objects.

“Virtual reality sort of encloses and immerses the person into an experience that can be really cool, but probably has a lower commercial interest over time,” Cook said in comparing the two technologies. He also said quite emphatically last year that using AR would become part of us, as commonplace as eating three meals a day.

Late in 2016, reports suggested Apple was working on its own AR glasses, though it was never clear just what the glasses were and where they would stand next to Google Inc.’s Google Glass and Microsoft’s seemingly brilliant but slow-to-catch-on HoloLens. The Bloomberg report also states that Apple took engineers that worked on both the latter AR technologies and multiple 3-D gaming, AR hardware and VR software businesses.

The team itself, says the report, is “run by a former Dolby Laboratories executive, the group includes engineers who worked on the Oculus and HoloLens virtual reality headsets sold by Facebook and Microsoft as well as digital-effects wizards from Hollywood.” Apparently this AR team now numbers in the hundreds.

Apple may be keeping quiet what exactly it’s tinkering away with in that giant underground garage, but the AR spectacles that connect to an iPhone are most certainly a real project. Another thing that looks likely is giving the iPhone built-in AR features such as photo manipulation, the ability to add depth and objects, and even possibly adding some rabbit ears to your best friend’s head.

lImage: Brother UK via Flickr