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Discover the latest trends on-the-go. This is a quick topic recap of one of the five biggest AR/VR trends in April identified by SparkAmplify. Swirling around the internet has been rumours of Apple’s new venture into AR technology, in the form of a product dubbed the “Apple Glass”. For more information on SparkAmplify’s monthly AR/VR topic analysis, please visit: https://www.sparkamplab.com/
Latest Developments: This June, a patent has been obtained by Apple indicating “an adjustable opacity system” for a new head device - fixing worries about unclear image projection in AR glasses. However, AppleInsider pointed out that a patent does not necessarily guarantee a specific product launch since patent applications are filed as part of the research and development process.
As for the release date of the product, there still are no changes on that front - analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, known for several spot-on Apple predictions, reiterated previous sentiments that Apple’s AR product is likely to come out in Q2 2022. What product is being released, no one really knows. TechRadar also echoed opinions that while the Apple Glass is thought to be of similar nature to the Google Glass, it may initially be launched as a headset/goggle-style product, and then subsequently move on to actual glasses a few years after.
The Deal: Recent patent applications filed by Apple have been identified by tech analysts, signalling Apple’s venture into AR technology and producing such products for consumers. While no official announcement has been made yet, the product in the spotlight is “Apple Glass” - think your regular eyewear with AR integrated into it.
BGR shared that rumours suggest an Apple MR device next year, that has both AR and VR functions, and the AR glasses later on in 2025. Fuelling the rumours, Apple CEO Tim Cook was recently interviewed for a podcast “Sway”, in which he discussed AR technology:
“And so when I think about that in different fields, whether it’s health, whether it’s education, whether it’s gaming, whether it’s retail, I’m already seeing AR take off in some of these areas.”
After all, Apple is not the only major company with plans to release AR glasses to consumers - it has Facebook, Niantic, Snap Inc., and Google to compete with (though Google already has something of the sort with Google Glass back in 2013). AR headsets have mainly been made for industrial use, but not yet the everyday consumer. This is probably what Apple aims to explore.
Possibilities for Mainstream AR Use: Furniture and homeware brand Ikea already has plans to adapt their iPhone-compatible Ikea Studio app for the Apple Glass. It is likely that other brands will follow suit, should this prove to be a popular initiative. AppleInsider cited some 2018 studies that showed that the inclusion of AR tools in shopping meant consumers were 11 times more likely to purchase the product(s), and 22% less likely to return them.
What’s Next, and Potential Problems: The Wall Street Journal points out that it will still be some time before AR glasses become commonplace, needing to know how to accommodate those who wear prescription glasses.
Cost wise, analysts predict a US$1,000 retail price, similar to that of a high-end smartphone. As for the aesthetics, it will also take some development to make them appealing to consumers, such as making them comfortable and fashionable (to an extent).
Another problem Apple will face, as WSJ notes, is dealing with the ethical issues like user privacy and security - especially since AR glasses are meant to function like a regular pair of eyewear and thus the glasses are witness to their everyday interactions.
Nonetheless, it’s full steam ahead for Apple and AR technology, and we shall await the Apple Glass announcement coming perhaps within the next year.