Published: Fri, August 31, 2018
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

Apple Buys Maker of Augmented Reality Lenses

Apple Buys Maker of Augmented Reality Lenses

ZDNet has reached out to Akonia and will update if we hear back. The Denver, Colorado-based company whose main business is to build holographic projectors and waveguide lenses for augmented reality headsets, giving added strength to longstanding rumors that Apple is making a move into the AR space.

While virtual reality immerses the user in a digital world, augmented reality is meant to overlay visuals and data onto the real one - allowing users for instance to look up details on objects and buildings in their field of view, or a mechanic to scan fix instructions.

Akonia's team has been very quiet over the last six months, according to Reuters which broke the news of the acquisition.

Apple buying Akonia propels the organisation onto the augmented reality front line.

There has been speculation that Apple is developing an AR headset that may work in tandem with the iPhone. Apple has been buying a lot of companies with technologies that are directly applicable in an AR set since as eagerly as 2013.

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It also presents a way of representing points of interest (a landmark or an object such as a moving car) in a view of a real environment on an iPhone screen, with interaction functionality.

Bloomberg a year ago reported that Apple was developing augmented reality glasses that could ship as early as 2020.

According to Reuters, who originally broke the story, Apple did not comment on the acquisition, nor on unreleased or in-development products.

CEO Tim Cook has previously said Augmented Reality was "a big idea like the smartphone" that would be "huge" and "for everyone". Just a year ago on a financial conference call with investors, Cook said, "This is one of those huge things that we'll look back at and marvel on the start of it". The displays that it produces are said to use the company's HoloMirror technology for "ultra-clear, full-color performance" to enable the "thinnest, lightest head worn displays in the world". Apple didn't confirm when it made the acquisition, but Reuters believes it might have happened sometime in the first half of the year.

In 2015 Apple acquired Metaio, a German company that developed an Augmented Reality SDK that seems to be the basis for ARKit, the Apple Augmented Reality developer API that debuted in iOS 11 in 2017.

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