While the web is perennially rife with speculation about Apple’s plans to develop a hardware device in the AR/VR space, a somewhat under-the-radar story out of Taiwan may shed a bit more light on the company’s plans.
As reported by the Nikkei Asian Review, one of Apple’s supply chain partners, MacBook and Watch assembler Quanta Computer, hinted during their most recent earnings conference call that they may be playing a significant role in the development of an augmented reality device.
Reportedly, such a device built by Quanta would be released no later than 2019. Although Quanta executives did not state for whom they would be assembling such a device, the most likely suspect appears to be Apple.
Quanta’s CEO also hinted at a possible price point — under US $1000.
Of further interest is that it’s entirely possible Quanta already is well on its way to having the hardware capabilities to support an Apple AR device: back in December of 2016, the company invested in Tel Aviv-based AR display company Lumus.
Lumus’ technology appears to be markedly superior to many other options in terms of incorporating a display into a wearable AR device: in its current form, it boasts a small form factor, wide field of view (55 degrees), almost zero distortions, daylight readability, and full colour capabilities.
Also notable in terms of Apple’s AR efforts is their acquisition, first reported in June, of Germany-based SensoMotoric Instruments (SMI). SMI brings a range of eye-tracking technologies to Apple’s technology portfolio, including capabilities such as user interface interaction that would be useful in an AR glasses or headset-style device.
Whether or not Lumus or SMI will end off a significant player in any future Apple product of course remains to be seen, but Quanta’s statements — and their partial ownership of a possible major piece of the AR puzzle — may be the best indication to date that an Apple AR device will eventually come to market.