Apple’s AR glasses look like something you might actually want to wear

By

A patent shows what Apple Glass AR glasses might look like.
These possible Apple augmented-reality glasses aren’t all that sexy, but they also aren‘t a huge visor strapped to your face.
Illustration: Apple

Apple filed a patent application that could give a first glimpse of the AR glasses the company is developing. An image included with the filing shows a small, lightweight augmented-reality device about the size of a standard pair of eyeglasses.

The primary focus of the patent is the ways the glasses might detect what its wearer is doing. These will allow the wearer to interact with the head-worn device in a variety of ways.

Showing what Apple is aiming for. Hopefully.

The filing in question is for “Monitoring A User Of A Head-wearable Electronic Device.” It was filed Thursday. The description and images give some insight into Apple’s goals for its AR glasses. It’s not a product the company talks about openly, but it’s been the subject of persistent rumors for years. If successful, augmented reality could become transformative tech… and a huge moneymaker.

Note that an iPhone appears prominently in one of the illustrations submitted. That’s not by accident, as the patent application describes the AR glasses as an iPhone accessory, not a stand-alone unit.

Of course, the drawings shown are for reference. There’s no guarantee what Apple eventually releases will be this small. Cramming all the necessary technology — and batteries — into such a form factor would be a considerable challenge. Still, it likely shows the designers’ aspirations.

Apple AR glasses might not be unwieldy.
These augmented-reality glasses from Apple’s patent filing look essentially like any other eyewear.
Illustration: Apple

Apple AR glasses loaded with sensors

The engineers who filed the patent application propose building a variety of visual sensors into the device. They envision the headset using light waves broadcast at different frequencies to detect, “various different head gestures, including, but not limited to, chewing, blinking, winking, smiling, eyebrow raising, jaw motioning (e.g., jaw protrusion, jaw retrusion, lateral jaw excursion, jaw depression, jaw elevation, etc.), mouth opening, and/or the like.”

The patent mentions cameras, but doesn’t put an emphasis on them. Google Glass, a rival head-mounted device, proved controversial because wearers could film everyone around them all the time.

A secretive Apple project

This device, possibly called Apple Glass, is expected to allow the wearer to do almost everything they do now with an iPhone, but through a heads-up display held in front of their eyes. Information would be overlaid onto the real world, not replace it.

The AR glasses could be out in 2021, but predictions for a possible launch date are muddied because Apple is also allegedly developing a VR headset. This would be a different, much bulkier device intended to be used in the home for gaming, education, etc. The augmented-reality glasses are for use everywhere.