What it is: Apple acquired Akonia Holographics, a company developing lenses for smart glasses.
It’s easy to see where Apple is heading based on the acquisitions they make. Before Apple released the iPhone, they acquired a company called FingerWorks, which specialized in creating user interfaces to be controlled through your fingers. Not surprisingly, much of that technology wound up creating the iPhone and iPad user interface.
Later, Apple acquired a Germany company called Metaio, which developed augmented reality software. Two years later, Apple released Metaio’s technology under the renamed framework of ARKit, which allows developers to add augmented reality to their apps. Apple also acquired Faceshift, a company that captured facial expressions using 3D sensors. That technology wound up in Apple’s Animoji on the iPhone X.
So it’s no surprise that Apple is working on smart glasses for augmented reality. This time Apple acquired Akonia Holographics, which specialized in creating lenses for smart glasses. Unlike virtual reality headsets that cover the user’s face, augmented reality smart glasses will need to be smaller, lighter, and more comfortable to wear on your face. That means limited capabilities initially (much like the Apple Watch) but it points to where the future is heading.
Apple is moving towards augmented reality and smart glasses will be their next product. Although Google Glass failed, Apple’s smart glasses will focus more on augmented reality that overlays virtual images over the real world. This would let you view directions by following arrows while still seeing the outside world around you.
Augmented reality right now requires a mobile device like an iPhone or iPad. Smart glasses will provide augmented reality without the need for mobile devices at all.
Smart glasses are coming within the next few years and Apple’s acquisition of Akonia Holographics will likely be a major part of this new product. Just as the Apple Watch as grown in popularity based on real-time health monitoring, so you can expect smart glasses to become popular based on augmented reality. By letting you see what’s not actually there, augmented reality offers a chance to make the world around you just bit more understandable in different ways.