Apple reportedly met with the suppliers of augmented reality glasses components at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.
The company made a significant push into AR with the launch of its ARKit framework in iOS 11, while rumors surrounding its own wearable AR hardware have been circling for years.
AR apps and games have flooded the App Store since the release of iOS 11 last September. They’re impressive without the need for additional hardware, but Apple is said to be working on glasses that might mean you no longer need to hold your iPhone in front of your face.
Apple meets with AR component suppliers
Another indication of this comes in a Bloomberg report, which claims Apple recently met with AR component makers at CES. Facebook and Google held similar meetings, the report adds, but the details of their negotiations are unclear.
“Smaller firms like Snap and China’s Xiaomi also met with potential partners at the show, indicating a desire to build their own AR headsets. Behind the scenes, Samsung and LG have already placed small orders of AR components to start prototyping devices.”
Apple AR glasses could be in the pipeline
An earlier report from Bloomberg revealed Apple was working on AR glasses that would be available by 2020. Like high-end VR headsets, the are said to have their own displays, processors, and a custom operating system dubbed “rOS.”
Many prototypes are believed to be in testing at Apple, however, so the final product could be drastically different. It’s possible Apple will follow in the footsteps of companies like Google and Samsung, which have built headsets that rely on smartphones, though that seems unlikely.
Apple is also still exploring uses for the device.
“Engineers are prototyping a range of applications, from mapping and texting to more advanced features including virtual meeting rooms and 360-degree video playback,” the report reads. “The company has discussed pairing the headset with its own version of the App Store.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook has confirmed the company is intensely focused on AR technologies. However, he has also warned that today’s technology isn’t where it needs to be to deliver the kind of quality Apple expects.
“Today I can tell you the technology itself doesn’t exist to do that in a quality way,” Cook said in October. “The display technology required, as well as putting enough stuff around your face – there’s huge challenges with that.”