Alphabet Inc’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google Glass augmented reality glasses went gone down in flames. However, that first public crash of the AR smart glasses concept does not appear to have scared off Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). The company is reportedly testing its own version of the connected eyeglasses.
What do we know about the top-secret “Apple Glasses” project?
Bloomberg was the first to press with news that AAPL is moving from patent applications to prototypes with its Apple Glasses project. According to the report, the company has been in discussion with potential component suppliers.
And it seems to have gone beyond the discussion phase. According to Bloomberg’s sources, Apple has ordered a small number of near-eye displays for testing. This is the technology that’s at the heart of AR smart glasses.
AAPL’s Stealthy Approach to AR and Smart Glasses
Apple has a well-deserved reputation as a company that takes a wait-and-see approach to new technology. It studies the efforts of the early releasers, learns from their mistakes, then pounces with a version of its own that blows away the competition. It did that with the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.
And it’s showing all signs of doing that with smart glasses.
In this case, the early releaser was Alphabet. Its venture into AR glasses had a promising start but collapsed under high prices, an elitist release approach and privacy concerns that culminated in the whole “Glassholes” issue.
Apple has been watching all this time. And CEO Tim Cook has signaled the company’s interest in augmented reality technology repeatedly. For example, in July during an AAPL earnings report, he was quoted as saying:
“AR can be really great. We have been and continue to invest a lot in this. We’re high on AR in the long run and we think there are great things for customers and a great commercial opportunity.”
MacRumors and other websites have been tracking the clues about what AAPL has been up to. There have been AR/VR acquisitions, patents and experimental Apple takes on Facebook Inc’s (NASDAQ:FB) Oculus Rift and the Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Hololens. Apple also is rumored to have built up a large team that’s focused on exploring AR and VR technology.
All of this observing and experimenting, combined with a growing consumer interest in AR, may now be culminating in Apple Glasses.
The question then becomes “When?”