Apple reportedly met with several augmented reality component manufacturers at CES 2019, further hinting that Apple-branded AR glasses are on the horizon.
More than a half dozen Apple engineers and other personnel met with AR waveguide producers at the Las Vegas event, a source familiar with the meetings told AppleInsider. All of those representatives were incognito, and some were employees of known Apple subsidiaries.
An optical waveguide, in layman’s terms, is a component or structure that can guide optical electromagnetic waves. For augmented reality, it’s a way to get graphical content from a source to displays in front of your eyes.
Some of the waveguide suppliers who exhibited at CES 2019 include DigiLens, Lumus, Vuzix and WaveOptics.
This isn’t the first time that Apple has shown an interest in AR exhibitors at CES. Last year, Apple representatives also met with firms that manufacture the “nuts of bolts” required to produce AR glasses at the annual expo.
Apple, of course, has a vested interested in augmented reality. The release of ARKit was perhaps the first step in that direction, but the company is also rumored to be developing standalone augmented or mixed-reality glasses.
According to part reports about the project (known internal as T288), the so-called Apple Glass device could sport ultra-high resolution 8K displays and run on a custom operating system called “rOS,” which could feature its own app store.
The head-worn device could have its own processing unit and overlay virtual graphical content over a real-world environment. It wouldn’t be an accessory, either. It’s rumored to be a standalone product that could perform all of its functions without a connected smartphone — presumably meaning it could eventually replace the iPhone.
As far as how users would interact with Apple Glass, previous rumors indicated that Apple engineers were exploring a variety of options — from hand gestures to Siri voice activation.
There’s no firm release date for Apple Glass quite yet. Past information suggested that the underlying technology powering the “breakthrough product” could be done by 2019, with a possible debut sometime the following year.