Apple smart glasses: Tim Cook says AR tech not ready

Posted October 12, 2017

"The field of view, the quality of the display itself, it's not there yet". Not too long ago, the Financial Times - which has an incredibly strong track record with respect to Apple rumors - reported that Apple was actively trying to engineer a pair of AR powered smart glasses equipped with 3D cameras.

Since Apple rolled out ARKit, a number of retailers have begun integrating the technology into their iPhone and iPad apps, giving us a glimpse of online shopping's future. Launching AR on iOS first also brings the technology to scores of developers already invested in the ecosystem, ensuring there's enough content to make ARKit worthwhile. The company officially introduced its ARKit in iOS 11 which has vast potential in achieving operations that were previously not practical.

Over the past few years, technology startups and brands including Rimmel and Gap have launched apps that invite shoppers to "try on" make-up and clothes virtually. "We don't have a plan to collect all of these objects, but I know companies who are working on that for their products", Cook said. But none have been advanced enough to compare to the experience of trying on a handsome matte foundation or tricky pair of pants in store.

Cook identified two problems with current AR devices. While stating AR "absolutely will" be a part of future shopping, he said Apple isn't actively pursuing a presence in the retail space.

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All that said, it's extremely likely that Apple is in fact researching the feasibility of AR powered glasses, but it may not ever be something Apple ever releases. While he stopped short of dismissing AR smart glasses altogether, he said Apple will wait until the technology's able to support a satisfactory experience. In an interview with The Independent, Cook said that now "the technology itself doesn't exist" to make augmented reality glasses "in a quality way".

Microsoft has continued to forge ahead, if far from aggressively, with numerous companies working on applications for the HoloLens, and some, like various European motor companies, even weaving them into their workflow.

While Cook did not deny that Apple was exploring the possibility of making its own AR glasses (leaked patents have long suggested it has something in the works), he added that Apple was not interested in being first to market with such a product. "Something that you would see out in the market any time soon would not be something that any of us would be satisfied with".