Apple Taps Its Metal Casing Supplier to Build AR Glasses

Apple Patent Shows Off Gesture-Controlled AR Headset

Tim Cook is quite the fan of Augmented Reality (AR). Not only has Apple’s top boss lauded the burgeoning technology in a number of prime-time media interviews, but he’s also hinted, indirectly, that his company is already at work developing new AR hardware products — sentiments which have since been echoed by a number of recent patent filings and supply chain reports.

Although we currently have little indication of when we might see the first of these products, a fresh report out of the Far East this morning which cites comments made by the chairman of Apple’s long-time metal frame and casing supplier, Catcher Technology, may give us a slightly better idea.

Noting that AR products “need to look good” and be “light enough to wear,” Catcher Chairman, Albert Horng, recently spilled the beans that his company is having a bit of trouble building parts destined for “an AR product” of unknown proportions.

“Based on what we have learned, [new AR products] need to look good and be light enough to wear,” Horng explained in an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review, while cautioning that based on those parameters “The casings [are] very complicated to manufacture and there are still a lot of challenges to overcome currently.”

Of course, while he [may have intentionally] stopped short of addressing Apple by name, Horng’s comments suggest that his firm might be working to resolve development and production issues related to one or more parts of an augmented reality product. And while we can’t guarantee that Apple is the beneficiary of said product, given the long-standing nature of Apple’s relationship with Catcher (while also considering the former’s bold stance on AR), it’s a safe bet.

iGlass Rumors Reignited

The Taipei, Taiwan-based Catcher Technology is Apple’s main supplier of metal casings for products including the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook — so it’s really not surprising that Apple would tap the case-maker to provide it with equally good-looking and high-quality frames to ensure they’re consistent with regards to the aesthetics and premium quality of its other key products.

Of course, we don’t know what “the product” is, or what it will embody when it launches; however we do have a wide range of ominous information suggesting that it could be the company’s long-rumored iGlass AR-powered spectacles.

Described as a wearable capable of wirelessly connecting to an iPhone, so as to “show images and other information in the wearer’s field of vision,” iGlass rumors started picking up steam over a year ago. And since then they’ve gained even more traction as analyst insider information continues pointing to the glasses, time and time again.

As mentioned, there’s still no indication of when such a product might launch; however according to Jeffrey Pu, an analyst with the Taipei-based investment firm, Yuanta Investment Consulting, iGlass (or something like it) could reach the market by as early as 2019.

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