Apple acquires startup that makes lens for AR glasses
Apple confirmed in a statement to Reuters that it has acquired Akonia Holographics, a startup which develops displays for AR glasses.
Akonia was founded in 2012 by a team of holography scientists. The team initially focused its efforts on holographic data storage before turning its attention to AR glasses.
According to its website, Akonia’s display technology allows for “thin, transparent smart glass lenses that display vibrant, full-color, wide field-of-view images.” The company also has over 200 patents related to holographic systems and materials.
Apple has been acquiring AR firms for the past few years. In 2015, Apple acquired Metaio for its AR technologies which could be used for a head mounted VR set. In November 2017, Apple purchased AR headset startup Vrvana. Vrvana made headlines with its unreleased Totem handset which could replicate the surroundings on its OLED screens inside the headset with its forward facing pass-through cameras.
The iPhone maker is rumored to be developing digital glasses according to Bloomberg’s sources in November 2016. The glasses are said to connect wirelessly to the iPhone, display images and other information in the wearer's field of vision, and may use AR. One of the rumored partners could be Carl Zeiss.
In August 2017, Financial Times claimed that Apple is experimenting with "several different kinds of AR prototypes" with one group of engineers pushing for a pair of 3D glasses that have 3D cameras, no displays and have to use the iPhone as the hub and main display.
Earlier this year, it was reported that Apple is working on a wireless headset which is capable of supporting AR and VR technology. The wireless headset is said to support an 8K display for each eye, and is untethered from a computer or smartphone. It is also said to be working on AR displays for self-driving cars, the latter which Apple CEO Tim Cook sees "as the mother of all AI projects".
With the AR market expected to be an additional US$8 billion revenue stream for Apple, it is no surprise that the iPhone maker is investing a lot of money and efforts on the technology.