Apple has acquired a startup that’s currently working on manufacturing lenses for augmented reality glasses, according to Reuters.
While it’s likely we still won’t catch a glimpse of the company’s oft-rumoured augmented reality headset for at least a few more years, this is a confirmation that wearable, head-mounted AR technology is still in development at Apple.
Akonia, the Longmont, Colorado-based startup which Apple acquired, was founded back in 2012 by “a group of holography scientists” working in the “holographic data” space, though the firm eventually shifted its focus to developing displays designed for augmented reality glasses, according to text on the company’s website.
Further, Akonia says that its display technology consists of “thin, transparent smart glass lenses that display vibrant, full-color, wide field-of-view images.” In total, Akonia holds over 200 patents related to holographic and augmented reality technology, according to the company’s website.
The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed by either Apple or Akonia. That said, Akonia raised $11.6 million USD in seed funding back in 2012, reports Reuters.
Apple confirmed the acquisition to Reuters with the following statement:
“Apple buys smaller companies from time to time, and we generally don’t discuss our purpose or plans.”
As it stands right now, Apple’s augmented reality efforts have been confined to the iPhone and its ARKit development framework.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has been positive about AR in the past, calling it “a big idea, like the smartphone,” and saying that “AR is that big, it’s huge.” ARKit 2, the latest version of Apple’s AR development framework, is capable of locking objects in a virtual space and scaling them as you move around. At WWDC 2018, Apple showed off a Lego-themed demo, along with an impressive tw0-player multiplayer demo called Slingshot.