Why Apple is betting on augmented reality, but not on the metaverse

Apple has laid a solid foundation in this regard, saying it already has the largest AR platform in the world with unparalleled patent and acquisition activity.

On September 30, 2022, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke to Dutch media Bright about the future of augmented reality (AR) and the metaverse. On augmented reality, Mr Cook was optimistic, saying it “won’t be long” before we see life without augmented reality the way we now see life before the internet or the smartphone. Conversely, Tim Cook, in the latest in a series of swipes at the perception of the metaverse, said that Apple does not use the word because the public does not understand it and virtual reality (VR) is not a good method. of communication.

Augmented and virtual worlds are developing rapidly, Apple will signal the end of recreation and launch a powerful ecosystem, AR. The features will change the game when the glasses are present.

A recent report “Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality 2023-2033”, shows that the interest in the metaverse has led to an increase in investments in AR and VR hardware, as these technologies are expected to be the main inputs into this next evolution of The Internet. But as the report describes, it’s important to remember that applications of AR go beyond solving tangible problems in the short term. Apple clearly hasn’t forgotten this fact.

Outlook

There is a growing recognition that for consumer AR glasses to be truly successful, they must fulfill multiple roles that cannot be fulfilled by existing smart devices or VR headsets. An example of this is Google’s ongoing public investigation of AR glasses that, among other things, translate and transcribe conversations in real time. Technically, these glasses do not do anything new. Smartphone software is technically capable of performing the same task, but AR glasses allow you to have a smooth conversation without having to stare at a screen. For people who often have to communicate in unfamiliar languages ​​or who have hearing difficulties, this type of product can be life-changing.

This is nothing new, augmented reality has been waiting for the form factor for a decade. Social acceptance has always been a stumbling block for consumer AR headsets (the term “glass hole” was coined to describe early Google Glass users). If augmented reality headsets prove to have a unique ability to solve high-value problems like this, the size of this barrier could shrink.

Google’s latest AR glasses appear to use a similar optical setup to the free-space holographic combiners previously used by the Canadian company North, acquired in 2020. Thanks to these combiners, the device looks like a normal pair of glasses, and the user’s eyes are fully visible, which greatly promotes social acceptance. The ability of new optical AR designs to enable social acceptance is a key theme.

Solving niche problems may contrast with the grand vision of augmented reality headsets revolutionizing the way we communicate, but it’s the best way to set the stage for these devices to be mass marketed. To begin to replace smartphones or smartwatches, AR headsets must demonstrate that they can offer solutions that these products cannot. Perhaps once this value proposition is established, market goals will evolve into a more revolutionary push towards the metaverse.

Tomorrow’s glasses

Like Google, Apple is likely looking for the most useful ways to move its AR apps from smartphones to smart glasses. It has laid a solid foundation in this regard, saying it already has the largest AR platform in the world, with patent and acquisition activity indicating it may be planning to release a headset. YEAR

In addition to several AR software patents, several patents filed by Apple since 2021 indicate an interest in eye tracking, which is increasingly common in AR/VR devices as a method to reduce requirements, resolution while maintaining the same image quality, as well as act as an interface with the software. The company’s 2018 acquisition of AR holographic optics company Akonia Holographics has also led to persistent rumors that an AR headset from Apple is just around the corner.

The AR industry is eagerly awaiting Apple’s release of headphones, and Tim Cook’s latest statement will no doubt give hope. A headset from Apple would be a major vote of confidence in the technology, and the tech giant clearly sees it as the next big thing in computing. What’s still less clear is when the glasses will arrive, and whether Apple has abandoned widely speculated plans for a VR headset to be released alongside.

At least there are many concepts!

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