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Apple buys AR headset lens maker for Apple Glasses project

Apple Glasses Concept
Image Credit: Stuff

Apple’s said to be secretly working on a pair of smart glasses, dedicated an entire team to figuring out AR and VR technology. The whole project is pretty mysterious, but one piece of the puzzle just landed in place recently with the acquisition of a company called Akonia Holographics.

Akonia Holographics is a startup which was created in 2012 by a group of holography scientists. They originally intended to focus on holographic data storage, but shifted their attention to creating displays for augmented reality glasses later on.

Why Apple Bought Akonia

It seems they did enough to get Apple’s attention. Reuters reports that the iPhone maker bought the brand at some point in the first half of 2018. The Cupertino-based firm released its standard statement when it does things like this, stating that it buys smaller companies from time to time and doesn’t generally discuss its purpose or plans.

Buying a firm which specializes in making thin, transparent lenses for AR is a pretty obvious plan though. Akonia’s website claims its goods can display vibrant, full-color, wide field-of-view images. This is key in making smart glasses a success since the device will have to work in any environment, light or dark.

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Existing headsets like the Microsoft HoloLens and Magic Leap One are extremely expensive and can only be used indoors with darkened lenses. Apple might be able to take advantage of Akonia’s tech to make everyday glasses which can be worn outside, are mass produced, and aren’t prohibitively expensive.

Akonia is notably the second AR/VR purchase Apple has made in recent times. It bought Vrvana in November 2017, a startup which made a mixed reality headset called Totem. Some say the Apple Glasses will make its debut in 2020, others say a 2021 date is more likely.