Leaked Apple Safety Document Hints at AR, Biometric Iris Scanning

Apple iPhone 8 AR

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A newly leaked document out of Cupertino hints at a secretive Apple project, possibly involving a prototype of the company’s rumored augmented reality glasses, or other similarly eye-focused tech.

The document in question is an incident report put together by a Environment Health and Safety contractor who works for Apple. Apparently, the report was mistakenly sent to “hundreds” of Apple employees, and was eventually leaked to Gizmodo. While most of the reported incidents — 70 in all — concern routine workplace and tech-related injuries, some of them contain striking clues that could point to Apple’s various secret projects.

One incident, which took place on Feb. 21, stated that a person was injured and required “medical treatment beyond first aid” while testing a prototype at the De Anza office in Cupertino. “After BT4 user study, user advised study lead, that she experienced discomfort in her eye and said she was able to see the laser flash and several points during the study,” the incident report reads. “Study lead referred her to optometrist and secured prototype unit for analysis.”

Another incident, this one taking place on March 2 at Cupertino’s Vallco Parkway office, similarly described some type of eye-related device or technology. “Employee reported eye pain after working with new prototype, thought it may be associated with use,” the document states. “He noticed that the security seal on the magenta (outer) case had been broken and had thought the unit may have been tampered with.”

Of course, the document’s descriptions of the incidents and their corresponding prototypes are vague, and are pretty indicative of Apple’s methods for keeping their new products secret. Still, a Gizmodo source who works at Apple theorized that the devices have to do with an upcoming augmented reality device, possibly a pair of glasses with a heads-up display. A less tantalizing possibility is that the eye-related tech is actually for biometric iris or facial recognition scanning — a feature expected to appear on this year’s iPhone 8.

Apple has long been rumored to be working on “revolutionary” augmented and virtual reality technology. In February, Business Insider reported that Apple may have “over 1,000 engineers” working on AR-related tech in Israel. Similarly, early this year, tech blogger Robert Scoble claimed that he received an insider report that Apple is currently working with optics company Carl Zeiss on a pair of augmented reality glasses. The company also holds various patents that hint at virtual and augmented reality tech, and CEO Tim Cook has expressed interest in AR tech on multiple occasions.

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