VR evangelist doubles down on rumor that Apple AR headset is inbound, moves date up to 2017
Augmented and virtual reality herald Robert Scoble has amplified his predictions about an Apple partnership with Carl Zeiss on a pair of smart glasses, and is predicting an announcement of the technology possibly as early as the middle of 2017.
Citing "many sources" situated "at the highest levels," Scoble reiterated his previous speculation that Apple would release an augmented reality headset soon. During the Feb. 5 "This Week in Tech" show with Leo Laporte, Georgia Dow, and Peter Cohen, Scoble presented little additional information than he had before, but moved up his prediction to an announcement as soon as the summer of 2017, but left open the possibility of the date slipping until 2018.
Scoble suspects that an announcement may be in conjunction with an Apple headquarters announcement, or possibly the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. Scoble expects a very lightweight pair of glasses, with the electronics on other places on your body, such as in an iPhone or other wearable.
"This is Tim Cook's legacy," Scoble said regarding a possible announcement. "In fact, it's Steve Jobs's legacy too."
Currently, Zeiss sells the VR One Plus, a headset that contains a user's smart phone, converting it into a VR or AR system, similar to the Samsung Gear VR or Google Daydream.
Zeiss made an appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show in January in the augmented reality pavilion, but had nothing new to demonstrate. Scoble previously explained the absence of optics at the show by saying that Apple muzzled the company until there is something to announce, and reiterated that claim in the show.
Apple has in the past shown interest in AR, with CEO Tim Cook trumpeting the technology on more than one occasion, but how or when the company plans to enter the sector is unclear.
"We are high on AR for the long run," Cook said during an earnings conference call in July 2016. "We think there's great things for customers and a great commercial opportunity. So we're investing,"
In November, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted Apple would ultimately exhibit an AR solution, but predicted that a standalone system is unlikely to debut for at least one to two years.
Apple is said to use AR and VR technology, reportedly utilizing it in to test a heads-up display with Siri integration in a migration from a full car with self-driving hardware towards supporting software systems.
Beyond Cook's affirmations that AR is an interest to Apple, there is ample evidence that the company is quickly growing out an internal AR team through strategic hires and segment purchases including motion capture specialist Faceshift, machine learning and computer vision startup Perceptio, German AR firm Metaio and Flyby Media, among others. Those acquisitions, some of which are considered "acqui-hires," go along with in-house development of transparent displays, iPhone-powered VR rigs, AR maps and other related technologies.