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Apple starts trial production of semitransparent lenses for AR devices

Lenses are going to be among the most complex and critical components of "Apple Glass"

Polarized and semi-transparent lenses for "Apple Glass" have reportedly begun trial production runs at Apple supplier Foxconn.

Apple has reportedly entered trial production with Foxconn for the manufacture of lenses that are expected to be used in "Apple Glass." The lenses are critical to the use of augmented reality and ARkit, in how they will present computer-generated images to the wearer, alongside what that user can see of the real world.

According to The Information, the lenses are at least one to two years away from entering mass production, but they passed the prototype stage two months ago, and are now being manufactured for testing. This testing reportedly follows around three years of development work at Foxconn.

The Information notes that this timescale fits with when

">Apple bought

lens startup firm Akonia Holographics. That company was using an LCD-on silicon display and proprietary lenses. However, it is not confirmed that this is the same technology being used in the new trial run.

Reportedly, the trial lenses are semi-transparent and polarized ones, made from multiple and extremely thin layers of various materials. The lenses have to be made in dust-free clean rooms and, according to The Information's unnamed sources, are slightly larger than ones typically found in spectacles.

Foxconn is believed to have turned over one production line at its plant in Chengdu, southwestern China, to the manufacturer of these lenses. This is the same plant where Foxconn is believed to produce the majority of Apple's iPads.