Apple said to be working on smart glasses
Apple said to be working on smart glasses

Specs will connect to iPhone to give heads-up display of info to user.

Apple is said to be working on smart glasses, according to reports from Bloomberg.

Sources told the publication that the wearable computer is still in an “exploration phase”, so may never see the light of day. However, the device would be connected to an iPhone, and display images and data in the user’s field of vision.

Apple has not immediately responded to requests for comment.

The source said that Apple has discussed its project with potential suppliers and has ordered a small number of near-eye displays for testing and research. The earliest the general public would see such a product would be 2018 at the earliest.

Apple has been steadily acquiring companies involved in Augmented Reality (AR) for some time. It bought PrimeSense in 2013. That firm developed technology used in the Microsoft Xbox Kinect system. Apple also bought some software start-ups in the field; Metaio and Flyby Media in 2015 and 2106 respectively. The last two firms have been working on 3D mapping and computer vision.

Apple owns a number of patents

Apple also has a number of patents around the technology, which suggests that it has an interest in the technology and may well become more serious in its efforts in the future.

Augmented reality isn’t without its obstacles. In 2013, Google Glass failed to capture the public’s attention and proved a failure in the end with Google pulling the plug on efforts a while back. It eventually stopped developing Google Glass in January of 2015.

The only main augmented reality competitor at the present time is Microsoft with its HoloLens product.

But Apple CEO Tim Cook remained upbeat about the chances of augmented reality taking off. Last month, he said in an interview that “there are some really hard technology challenges there, but it will happen in a big way, and we will wonder when it does, how we ever lived without it.”

“Like we wonder how we lived without our phone today.”

Robert Bownes, director of communications at data science and intelligence marketing company Profusion told Internet of Business that Apple’s potential expansion into Google Glass-esque territory could be a watershed moment for the development of wearables into something functional and actually useful for consumers.

“Using smart glasses Apple would have the opportunity to literally see through the eyes of its customers. Everything from location data through to eye movements could be collected and used by Apple. Overlaying the data Apple will receive from smart glasses with the data it already collects on our interactions, movements and social lives, Apple would get an incredibly rich view of what consumers are interested in and how to market to them effectively,” he said.

“Apple shouldn’t approach the wearables market through rose-tinted glasses – there is a fine line for the tech giant to tread between using data to improve consumers’ lives, and being too intrusive. Clear rules will have to be set by the tech giant over who accesses the smart glasses data, how the data is used and ensuring it is stored correctly.”