Apple Augmented Reality

Apple planning AR headset for 2020, analyst claims

Image credit: Apple

Apple is preparing to release augmented reality (AR) glasses as a new product release by 2020, according to a business analyst known for his past prediction successes.

In a research note seen by Business Insider, TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said he believes Apple is preparing a new augmented reality wearable product to partner with the iPhone, potentially called AR Glass.

“We predict that AR is the next-generation revolutionary UI; we therefore think that AR does not need any killer applications given it is a killer application already,” Kuo wrote in the note. “We expect Apple will redefine the UIs of existing products by offering an AR experience created by the AR glass, which will likely be launched in 2020.”

Kuo has enjoyed recent success in predicting Apple’s plans, correctly estimating the screen size of the iPhone X before its launch; the existence of the Face ID facial-recognition system and tech details about the iPhone 8 camera.

In the note to investors, Kuo supports his predictions by saying, “Apple has always grown significantly after redefining existing and new products by innovating its UIs (e.g. Mac’s mouse, iPod’s click wheel and iPhone’s multi-touch) in the past. We expect Apple will redefine the UIs of existing products by offering an AR experience created by the AR glass, which will likely be launched in 2020.”

While details of any physical product are not yet known, Apple’s interest in AR and VR is public and well-documented. Speaking in 2015, Apple CEO Tim Cook described augmented reality as “really cool” and that it has “some interesting applications”, later expanding on this to say, “AR can be really great. We have been and continue to invest a lot in this. We’re high on AR in the long run and we think there are great things for customers and a great commercial opportunity.”

It is widely assumed that the trillion-dollar Californian tech giant has hundreds of its employees working on AR tech at the company’s new futuristic Apple Park (aka Campus 2) headquarters building.

In a 2017 interview with The Independent, Cook hinted further at Apple’s interest in AR, saying that it is a “big idea like the smartphone... I think AR is that big, it’s huge. I get excited because of the things that could be done that could improve a lot of lives. And be entertaining.”

The most famous AR app for the iPhone is Pokémon Go - which overlays cartoon characters onto real-world environments when viewed through an iPhone or iPad screen - although other AR apps are also available from the App Store, including Ikea’s Place and Euclidean Lands. Apple has also released its own ARKit, a coding tool for developers building AR apps. The forthcoming iOS 12 update, due for release this autumn, is also expected to include new AR features

Should Apple release an AR wearable device, the company will be hoping that its product betters the market performance of both Facebook’s Oculus Rift or HTC’s Vive - both of which have struggled to achieve critical mass, despite months, years, of build-up hype - and also that it doesn’t go the way of Google Glass, a product famously cancelled as a commercial product by the parent company after only two years, eventually resurfacing as a more niche ‘Enterprise Edition’ wearable for use in various industries.

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