Apple could be getting into AR hardware in a big way

15 Nov 2016

Apple store in Houston, Texas. Image: Trong Nguyen/Shutterstock

Following the plethora of criticisms aimed at Apple for falling behind in the innovation game, sources within the company have come forward to say it is working on getting into AR hardware big time.

For the past two years, the global tech industry has been trying to change our perception of reality, with the release of a number of different headsets both in the virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) worlds.

Aside from changing how gamers interact with the games that make up a multibillion-dollar industry, their potential could change the way we interact with the web as a whole and in our everyday lives.

An AR spectacle

While companies like Microsoft and Google are leading the way in these areas, Apple has remained largely an outsider, offering no AR or VR hardware of its own – but this could be about to change.

According to Bloomberg, Apple is now considering developing a pair of digital AR glasses, which would be similar in concept to the failed Google Glass project that projected a display onto the device’s lenses.

While Apple has not commented publicly on the development of such a device, sources have come forward to say that the company has begun discussions with potential suppliers of near-eye displays.

However, as the number of components ordered remains quite low, the indication is that Apple is simply having a look at what it might be able to offer.

‘Great commercial opportunity’

If it gets the go-ahead, the sources said that it could be 2018 at the earliest before an AR device is released, but an Apple spokesperson has refused to comment on the matter.

Speaking in July, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook did not shy away from saying the company was interested in AR as a potential avenue to go down, particularly after the overnight success of the AR game Pokémon Go.

“AR can be really great, and we have been and continue to invest a lot in this,” Cook said at the time. “We are high on AR for the long run. We think there are great things for customers and a great commercial opportunity.”

The potential decision to get into new AR hardware comes after the company has received considerable criticism for entering an ‘innovation crisis’ following the launch of its iPhone 8 and new MacBook Pro.

While both products have sold very well, the company has been accused of failing to innovate in favour of slightly better hardware than the previous editions, but Cook has denied these claims.

Apple store in Houston, Texas. Image: Trong Nguyen/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic