Evidence is continuing to mount that an Apple augmented reality (AR) headset is on the way, including new reports out of Apple’s supply chain.
New Information from Catcher
Taipei, Taiwan-based Catcher Technology, a device chassis maker and a long-time Apple supplier, said it will start supplying chassis for a brand new product line that’s outside of its existing three major categories (notebooks, smartphones and tablets). Catcher’s Chairman, Allen Horng, revealed the fact in a routine report of the company’s earnings and expected performance in 2018, DigiTimes reported on Wednesday.
While Catcher didn’t reveal any details about the new product line, market watchers are already speculating that it is related to augmented or virtual reality — particularly as rumors abound about Apple’s own augmented reality ambitions. Apple is one of Catcher’s biggest clients, and market insiders are already predicting that Catcher’s new products could be connected to the Cupertino-based tech giant.
Previous Catcher Reports
In a supply chain report in November, Catcher’s Horng revealed to Nikkei that the company was developing and building components for a currently unknown augmented reality device. Specifically, Horng told the publication that Catcher was already working to overcome certain obstacles and bottlenecks in the device’s development.
While Horng stopped short of naming the augmented reality device client, market watchers quickly speculated that it could be an upcoming Apple device — due to the company’s long-time partnership with Catcher.
There’s no guarantee that the unnamed product is, in fact, iGlass (aka Apple Glass). But combine the recent reports about Catcher with other rumors surrounding an upcoming Apple AR device, and there’s certainly a strong possibility that the two rumored products are one in the same.
What We Know About Apple Glass So Far
Apple, and specifically CEO Tim Cook, has been particularly outspoken about augmented reality’s future. The company’s recent unveiling of ARKit, as well as its recent patents and acquisitions, are just a few hints that Apple is taking a proactive stance toward the emergent technology.
According to a November Bloomberg report, Apple’s engineers are currently developing prototypes for an upcoming AR headset or spectacles. That includes developing a new AR-based operating system, internally dubbed “rOS,” as well as an App Store loaded with augmented reality applications. According to that report, the rOS device could be controlled through a mixture of hand and head gestures, Siri voice commands and touch controls.
Similarly, Apple supplier Quanta Computer is also rumored to have been tapped for the rOS device. Quanta Vice Chairman C.C. Leung told Nikkei that the company is working on a “significant AR device” that will be released in under two years. Like Catcher, Quanta does have other manufacturing clients, but Apple is by and far the largest and most high-profile.
In addition, Quanta recently struck a licensing deal with Israel-based AR tech company Lumus Ltd. to begin developing lenses that use Lumus’ proprietary AR display technology. According to reports, the device would be a “headset-like gadget” with a transparent display that would allow information to be overlayed over a user’s field-of-view — allowing users to interact unrestricted with their environment.
While a release timeline is still up in the air, sources indicate that Apple is likely to have the technology ready by 2019. As far as the actual device’s release, analysts have predicted that it could launch in 2019 or 2020.