Mark Gurman, writing for Bloomberg:
Investors impatient for Apple’s next breakthrough will be happy to know that Cook is very serious about AR. People with knowledge of the company’s plans say Apple has embarked on an ambitious bid to bring the technology to the masses—an effort Cook and his team see as the best way for the company to dominate the next generation of gadgetry and keep people wedded to its ecosystem.
Apple has built a team combining the strengths of its hardware and software veterans with the expertise of talented outsiders, say the people, who requested anonymity to discuss internal strategy. Run by a former Dolby Laboratories executive, the group includes engineers who worked on the Oculus and HoloLens virtual reality headsets sold by Facebook and Microsoft as well as digital-effects wizards from Hollywood. Apple has also acquired several small firms with knowledge of AR hardware, 3D gaming and virtual reality software.
Building a successful AR product will be no easy task, even for a company known for slim, sturdy devices. The current crop of AR glasses are either under-powered and flimsy or powerful and overwhelmingly large. Apple, the king of thin and light, will have to leapfrog current products by launching something small and powerful.
Adding AR features to the iPhone isn’t a giant leap. Building glasses will be harder. Like the Watch, they’ll probably be tethered to the iPhone.
In 2015, Apple recruited Mike Rockwell, who previously ran the hardware and new technologies groups at Dolby, the iconic company known for its audio and video technology. Rockwell also advised Meta, a small firm that makes $950 AR glasses and counts Dolby as an investor.
Rockwell now runs the main AR team at Apple, reporting to Dan Riccio, who’s in charge of the iPhone and iPad hardware engineering groups.
Read the whole thing. I can’t wait for Apple’s take on AR. This is a gigantic problem, combining the difficulties of crafting brand new, power hungry hardware with sophisticated, layered, ground-breaking software. To me, this is way bigger than the Apple Watch, a much harder nut to crack.
Will Apple start with vertical applications, designed for a specific space like, say, construction, or home design? Or will they try to craft a killer AR app usable by the masses?
Will Apple bring Siri into the mix? If so, how deeply? And, if so, how will they leverage Susan Bennett’s voice? At some point, doesn’t Siri need some backup talent in case Susan is unavailable?