If it wasn’t clear to you, Apple is very interested in augmented reality (AR). When Apple released iOS 11 last year, they brought AR to the world. Or at least, those of us with the latest iPhone and iPads. This also gave developers the tool they needed in order to build AR apps and games that can run on iOS devices. This was just the first step though. Apple does intend on expanding their AR ambitions starting with the creation of AR glasses. This technology could give Phone users information straight into their eye. But when are they coming? There have been rumors over the last few years, but now it’s believed that they will arrive late in 2021. This is about a year later than originally expected.
This is according to a report from Loupe Ventures analyst Gene Munster, where he discusses product categories that Apple could pursue. Munster speculates that Apple’s AR glasses could give the company $10 million in sales in the first year. Munster acknowledges the mixed feelings of AR’s potential by investors “given the two most popular AR use cases today are Snapchat and Pokemon.” The failure of Google Glass from 2015 also add to the worry, as well as society’s dislike for people to wear cameras and record potentially everything they see.
Munster believes that Apple’s AR strategy is going to roll out in three phases. The first will occur in the fall with the refresh of the iPhone. He believes it will come in the form of more iPhones using VCSEL arrays that can help power AR experiences. This will be followed by ARKit apps being the next big thing for developers – especially in the fields of gaming, commerce, and education. Lastly, he believes that Apple will release their AR glasses.
Is the public ready for AR glasses? Munster believes that we aren’t. But I think it’s just around the corner. Think about it from this perspective – right now we get all of our information from our smartphones. And that is great. It’s incredible technology. We can find out where the nearest restaurant is of our choosing, just by typing in a few keywords. But should we really be looking at the world with a screen in front of our faces? A pair of glasses is kind of the next thing, in terms of how we consume technology. And I think this is really going to work.
We have already started accepting the idea of wearables. Apple Watches, and Fitbits – just to name a few. But there are so many other devices that we can connect to ourselves and the internet. So why is it so hard to believe that glasses would be the next step in this? Why is society so against it? The challenge will be in the fact that the technology will have to advance to a place where the design of the hardware isn’t a negative factor. Munster believes that in the future, we won’t be able to live without an AR wearable device.
That said, we are still about 3 years out from getting this kind of technology from Apple. There are a handful of companies who are working on this kind of technology as well, but they aren’t in the same realm as the tech giants. Who will bring us the first, fully functional AR glasses? That remains to be seen, but it does look like we have a timeline for Apple. If the reports are true, they should have those glasses by the end of 2021. Hopefully, this isn’t another Apple HomePod fiasco, because I think this will be revolutionary.