Rumor: Apple working with Sony on AR glass displays
Today’s best Apple gossip claims it is working with Sony to develop display technology for at least one version of the augmented reality (AR) glasses we all think it is building, with release perhaps now scheduled for 2021.
Sony’s optical advantage
As translated by 9to5Mac, it states:
“It seems that Sony has received an order for a micro display using an organic EL panel. It features high image quality and small size and light weight, and has many achievements for digital camera viewfinders. Augmented reality (AR) / virtual reality (VR) compatible HMDs for new applications use optical technology to project images displayed on the display onto the lens in front of you.”
A long time coming
In previous episodes of the Apple Glass game, we think we’ve learned that Apple is developing two kinds of AR spectacle: A set for AR gaming and a second more sophisticated system you’ll wear all the time.
While there may be some overlap between those two products, the latter is likely to be far more optically complex to manufacture and to host its own processor, while the former will rely on other Apple devices as the ‘brain’.
That Apple is working with Sony on at least part of this plan makes some sense.
After all, both companies have been working on technologies to support such devices since before the introduction of the first iPhone.
Then, in 2008, analysts from Research & Markets wrote:
“Today’s personal viewers provide video only with limited visibility of the environment. Sony and Apple are developing the next generation personal viewer, the navigation/video sunglasses. These products will offer navigation features in full see-through mode as well as video viewing with a clip-on to block the background. We expect that clip-ons will be available to provide both see-periphery views of the environment, as well as full blocking of the environment to enable video immersion when desired. This new versatile product generation will further accelerate acceptance and sales of personal viewers.”
Return of the kings
Apple has always had a lot of respect for Sony.
Many years ago, Steve Jobs approached Sony President Kunitake Ando to ask the company to put OS X inside the Sony Vaio range. Sony declined and Apple created the titanium design that became the MacBook Pro.
Given Apple uses Sony cameras in its iPhones, it surely recognises that Sony leads in optical glass and camera lens technologies, both of which will be essential to AR specs.