Apple shows acute interest in AR tech suppliers at CES 2019; indicates it’s working on AR glasses

Jan 28, 2019, 5:25 am

Bhaswati S.

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The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) of 2019 bore witness to the presence of a number of incognito Apple engineers and key personnel including employees of known subsidiaries, who met with AR waveguide suppliers the likes of Lumus, DigiLens, Vuzix, and WaveOptics. This marks a similarity with what meetings Apple had participated in CES 2018, and points to Apple’s acute interest in perusing potential AR part suppliers.

When used in AR glasses, waveguides help to transmit geographical information from an output source to one or more display planes positioned in front of a user’s eyes. For instance, Magic Leap utilizes waveguide technology in a mixed reality headset that was launched in 2018.

However, Apple did not immediately respond to AppleInsider’s request for comment.

It’s no mere coincidence that previous reports have suggested Apple’s probe into technology related to head-worn displays.

Apple acquired the Canadian AR startup Vrvana back in 2017. Vrvana had developed a hybrid headset called Totem which combined AR and VR into a single device, enabled 6DoF tracking with the help of an array of cameras, and also captured live views of the outside world for display on OLED panels situated in front of the user’s eyes.

Apple, moreover, purchased AR headset lens maker Akonia Holographics in 2018. According to the now-decommissioned Akonia’s website, Akonia’s flagship HoloMirror product had successfully reproduced full-color, wide field-of-view images with a single layer of media with reduced system complexity that allowed for integration in smaller form factor devices, such as common eyeglasses.

It is unclear as to whether Apple would rely on the waveguide, mixed reality, HoloMirror or another technology for its future plans.

Furthermore, Apple is rumored to be working on a pair of so-called “Apple Glasses”, internally referred to as “T288”, which operates on its own “rOS” and utilizes ultra high-resolution 8K display and a separate processing unit, so as to overlay virtual images over real-world objects present in a user’s field of vision. This in-house designed AR headset has the possibility of debuting in the next few years.

AR is a hot topic in the current consumer electronics field, what with top-tier industry players and cellular providers showing much interest in it. As per reports of ZDNet Korea, LG UPlus, a wireless subsidiary of Korean tech giant LG, was much curious about AR products like the Vuzix Blade smart glasses. According to LG UPlus CEO/Rep Director Ha Hyun Hwoi, the company aims to diversify 5G communications and to that end is exploring innovative AR and VR devices.

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