Apple’s AR glasses may be approaching their big reveal, according to the tech investment analysts at megabank Morgan Stanley.
In a report sent to investors, its team has noted a similar cadence of patent applications as seen prior to the 2014 launch of the Apple Watch, suggesting that the Cupertino company is gearing up to show its augmented reality wearable to the public.
"The enormity of the technical challenge — compressing daylong battery, 5G, compute, cameras, lidar, projectors and wave guide lenses into a lightweight, attractive pair of glasses — is hard to overstate," the analysts said.
"But we are approaching liftoff.
"Apple's entry into the eyewear market will be the game changer for all participants as the technology gets normalized and popularized. Apple's patent portfolio is beginning to mirror the period prior to the Watch launch.
"Apple has a long history of disrupting new markets and ultimately growing the addressable market size well beyond initial expectations," the investment bank said.
Apple’s AR glasses (which are also expected to be flanked by the release of an Apple VR headset release) are expected to overlay contextual data and notifications to the lens of an otherwise-traditional appearing set of spectacles. We’ve seen similar attempts in the past, from Google’s ill-fated Glass to the Snapchat Spectacles, and more recently Facebook’s collaboration with Ray-Ban for the Stories smart glasses.
Rumors have pointed to Apple’s implementation being more ambitious than simply audio playback and video capture however, with the glasses expected to offer information synced from an accompanying mobile device and including intelligent details based on your location, calendar, interests and more.
So when could we expect to see the glasses revealed? Relatively safe money would have been on a WWDC 2022 unveiling, in Q2 of next year.
But with the world still reeling from the effects of Covid-19, that may now feel ambitious. Regardless, a WWDC reveal may still be possible if a protracted period before a general consumer release is involved – it will give Apple’s army of third-party developers a heads up to get involved with the product. And if the App Store is any example to go by, the greater the ecosystem of supporting software for a piece of hardware, the greater its chance of mainstream success.