Apple, Inc.’s acquisition of Akonia Holographics, a startup that makes lenses for augmented reality (AR) glasses, signals Apple’s interest in developing inexpensive AR glasses and a headset in the near future. Although only founded in 2012, Akonia already has over 200 hologram-related patents, so the acquisition has huge implications.
As Reuters reports, “The Akonia acquisition is the first clear indication of how Apple might handle one of the most daunting challenges in augmented reality hardware: Producing crystal clear optical displays thin and light enough to fit into glasses similar to everyday frames with images bright enough for outdoor use and suited to mass manufacturing at a relatively low price.”
It is still unclear what price point Apple is expected to sell their product at, but reports are that the tech giant will bring AR to the public by 2020.
AR made a grand impression with much of the public when Pokemon Go was released in 2016, and games are certainly a continuing area of focus for AR. However, there are many more kinds of applications that extend well beyond gaming which a number of tech companies are actively developing.
For example, Dutch company Layar uses AR to bring print media like newspapers and magazines to life. Companies like Augment allow people to see 3D displays of products and thus are focusing on B2B and retail. Meanwhile, Metagram is looking to bring AR into a theater near you.
With these developments as well as ones in education, architecture, agriculture, healthcare, manufacturing, and many others, the opportunities to use low-cost AR glasses are only increasing. There is little doubt that the wider availability of AR, which may increase with Apple’s involvement in this technology, will also greatly expand the horizons of how businesses will use AR.