September 24, 2023

Apple’s Smart Glasses: A glimpse into the near future

Apple's Smart Glasses

Apple’s Smart Glasses! Apple appears to be charting a dual-course in the world of augmented reality (AR) devices. A newly uncovered patent filed on September 5th with the US Patent Office reveals the tech giant’s ongoing efforts to develop a more traditional pair of smart glasses alongside its recently unveiled Apple Vision Pro, a spatial computer headset.

This revelation has sparked intrigue, as it raises the question of whether Apple intends to offer consumers both augmented reality glasses, which could serve as iPhone accessories and resemble conventional eyewear, and a high-powered virtual reality headset akin to a self-contained computer. Prior to this development, rumors had swirled about Apple’s foray into both AR and VR technologies.

The Apple Vision Pro, introduced as a groundbreaking spatial computer, falls firmly into the VR category. However, this latest patent showcases Apple’s commitment to creating what they refer to as a “head-mounted display/smart glasses (HMD),” which would incorporate a digital crown on one of its stems. This device would function as a heads-up display, providing users with notifications, music player control, and the projection of images and information onto the lenses, augmenting the real world in front of them.

While Apple is known for frequently filing patents, not all of them translate into tangible products. What makes this particular filing stand out is its timing, coming just three months after the unveiling of the Vision Pro. The detailed drawings and descriptions in the patent suggest a more concrete and less abstract development stage than many other filings.

Apple’s potential dual-track approach would not be without precedent. Competitor Meta, for instance, offers both the Meta Quest VR headset and Ray-Ban Stories AR glasses. The possibility of Apple integrating its AR glasses with the iPhone to leverage its computing power and apply lessons learned from the Apple Watch as a second-screen companion accessory is a compelling prospect.

Though challenges remain in shrinking the advanced technology packed into the Vision Pro into a more lightweight and simplified form factor resembling regular spectacles, this patent hints at Apple’s determination to explore this avenue. The company could conceivably cater to different segments of the market with AR glasses as iPhone accessories at the entry level and the Vision Pro headset at the high end. The long-term vision might involve a convergence of these two product lines in the decades to come.

As Apple continues to push the boundaries of technology and innovation, the future of augmented and virtual reality seems poised for exciting developments on multiple fronts. Stay tuned for more updates as this story unfolds.

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