Apple Reportedly Exploring Augmented Reality Technology

by Matt Klassen on March 19, 2015

Not to be outdone by recent wearable tech prototypes like Google Glass, Apple may be looking to develop its own augmented reality device(s) in the near future, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster hinted at earlier this week. In an investor’s note Munster cited conversations with insiders who claimed Apple sees huge opportunity with augmented reality tech and believes it “has the potential to be as profound a technology platform as the smartphone today.”

Munster went on to say that should Apple actually pursue this new development track the company likely has the ability to attract the masses, creating a product Apple fans will crave, instead of alienating the general consumer base as current such prototypes have already done.

So can Apple succeed where Google has failed thus far? As the analyst notes, just as Apple’s recent smartwatch release was able to revolutionize and revitalize the wearables market with its focus on fashion over technology, so to would the company’s augmented reality efforts likely do the same, creating something that the general public would want to integrate into their daily lives, instead of something that alienates and divides the tech ‘haves’ from the ‘have-nots.’

For those who might need a refresher, augmented reality describes the digital overlay of information onto the real world. So while virtual reality creates an entirely new world for the user to see and experience, augmented reality incorporates digital information with the real world. It is like how Google Glass, for instance, allowed its users to see the real world but also projected digital information in front of the users’ eyes.

Augmented reality projects are seen by many as the future of wearable technology, and Google Glass is by no means the only such project. But whether it’s Sony’s SmartEyeglass Developer Edition or Microsoft’s HoloLens, like Google Glass the projects have all found customer adoption and acceptance of such devices to be problematic, which is where many think Apple may differ from its competition and ultimately succeed where they’ve so far failed.

“We believe that wearables are meant to be worn and seen, thus they need to be fashionable or desirable to wear,” Munster said. “Augmented reality will require some type of technology that projects images in the user’s eyesight (ultimately augmented reality may be delivered via implants). We believe that Apple has the unique ability to combine the technology of augmented reality with attractive fashion/design that users will actually want to wear.”

Now even if Munster’s rumour proves true and Apple does indeed introduce augmented reality into its current product line-up, an actual device may still be years away. That said, it’s clear from Apple’s recent hires that the company is looking to transform itself into a fashion brand, not just a tech brand, and it is this new corporate face that will likely allow Apple to succeed in the wearables market.

“We believe the company’s growing abilities in fashion and design could help the company develop other wearable products longer-term, particularly augmented reality focused devices,” Munster said.

Simply put, no one wants to be a cyborg (yet), so the first company to produce a mass marketed, fashionable, augmented reality device will likely see instant success, and given Apple’s unquestioned ability to speak to our hearts instead of our heads, there’s good reason to think the Cupertino Company will be the one to do it.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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