Will Apple be the first to kick-start the AR headset market?
According to research conducted by TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will begin mass production of its long-rumored AR headset before the end of the year and will launch the device as early as the second quarter of 2020.
The report, first obtained by MacRumors, states that the company will be working alongside various third-party eyeglass brands prior to launch, implying that Apple’s device could be more of a modular attachment rather than a full headset. According to Kuo, Changying Precision will serve as the main chassis provider.
In March, Kuo predicted a mid-2020 launch for the AR device; this latest report, however, indicates an earlier release.
In 2018, it was reported that Apple was in development of a combination VR/AR headset that would launch sometime in 2020. This was then followed by a patent filing in March which eluded to a mixed reality headset capable of hand, eye, and facial tracking.
This past July, however, rumors began circulating that Apple had put a temporary pause on the project and had disbanded its team in May. Then, in September, code pointing towards several headset-specific functionalities was discovered in Apple’s latest iOS 13 update, reigniting discussions of a potential AR device. Along with several references to stereo AR apps and settings, the code also hinted at a Bluetooth “smart tracker” that would use AR-based navigation to direct users towards lost items.
Kuo, a well-respected veteran analyst, has provided clients with accurate predictions and detailed research notes on a variety of Apple’s past dealings, thanks in large part to reliable intelligence gathered from his personal contacts within Apple’s Asian supply chain. If his latest predictions prove to be accurate, one can only wonder if Facebook’s recent announcement regarding their own AR glasses played a part in Apple’s expedited timeline.
Whatever the case, it’s clear that standalone AR headsets are poised to replace smartphone technology over the next several years.