Why Apple will make smart glasses

“It’s easy to dismiss the speculation that Apple is working on smart glasses,” Mike Elgan writes for Computerworld. “It’s hard to picture Apple selling smart glasses. But it’s also hard to picture them not doing it.”

“If smart glasses become a popular and mainstream consumer electronics category, Apple will almost be required to enter the market as a fiduciary responsibility to Apple shareholders,” Elgan writes. “The choice of smartphone in the future may be dictated by the use of smart glasses. If mainstream smart glasses require an Android phone, Apple could lose market share.”

Elgan writes, “And when I say mainstream, I mean totally mainstream. What if nearly all glasses were smart glasses?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Stylish eyewear that actually delivers useful data to wearers is potentially a huge market and Apple is exactly the company to deliver just such a wearable.

Apple Specs®. Smart glasses done right.

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Apple Specs: Smart glasses that people will want to wear – November 16, 2016
Apple considers move into smart glasses – November 14, 2016
Apple granted another Augmented Reality head-mounted display patent – November 10, 2016
Snapchat introduces ‘Spectacles’ eyewear that record video – September 26, 2016
Ming-Chi Kuo: Apple will have a 3-5 year lead in augmented reality; use as part of an autonomous driving system – November 2, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘We are high on Augmented Reality for the long run’ – October 14, 2016
iPhone 7 Plus is the starting point of Apple’s major push into augmented reality – September 28, 2016
iPhone 7 Plus proves Apple is gearing up for augmented reality – September 27, 2016
What iPhone 7 says about Apple’s future augmented reality plans – September 19, 2016
Apple needs to forget chasing Snapchat and go after the Augmented Reality industry – August 25, 2016
Tim Cook publicly confirms Apple has augmented reality plans – July 27, 2016
Apple acquires Flyby Media; assembles large team of virtual and augmented reality experts – January 29, 2016
Apple hires leading virtual reality researcher – January 22, 2016
Apple is building a virtual reality supply chain with disruptive potential, new research shows – November 19, 2015
Analyst: Apple team exploring virtual reality/augmented reality – August 31, 2015
Apple exploring a new reality with purchase of Metaio – June 3, 2015
Apple patents perforated augmented reality display that you can see and hear through – May 29, 2015
Apple acquires augmented reality company Metaio – May 28, 2015
New Apple haptics patent application reveals diamond-layered trackpad that simulates wood, other textures – April 23, 2015
Apple granted U.S. patent for hybrid VR head-mounted display – February 18, 2015
Apple is working on VR user interfaces and gaming; looking for Oculus and Leap experts – February 10, 2015
Apple granted patent for display-based speakers for iOS devices – January 13, 2015
Apple granted a patent for devices with a transparent display – November 18, 2014
Apple’s new iPhones, iPads could feature haptic displays – June 30, 2014
Apple patent application reveals personal display headset invention – May 8, 2014
Apple patent application reveals wildly intelligent multi-tiered haptics system – May 3, 2012
Apple continues to tweak Apple TV video headset accessory – April 10, 2014
Apple patent application reveals sapphire flexible transparent display devices created with Liquidmetal – December 19, 2013
Apple granted knockout patent for head-mounted personal display – December 10, 2013
Powerful new patent application details next step in Apple ‘iGlasses’ project – December 7, 2012
iGlasses: Apple granted patent for head-mounted augmented reality displays – July 5, 2012

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Dan K.” for the heads up.]


    1. Correction/clarification: The glasses may need a camera to provide augmented reality services, since an inertial measurement unit with GPS probably wouldn’t cut it by themselves. But the camera should have no ability to record.

      1. I was just about to comment saying the same thing. But I do wonder about something maybe you and others might have some insight on. Other than being used for augmented reality I assume the glasses could be used as a HUD and relay information from the phone. However the watch already relays so much information from the phone to your wrist; I wonder what the glasses could help relay that the watch can’t do by itself. This is of course assuming the glasses are used as a HUD, which I don’t see why it couldn’t/wouldn’t.

        1. Apple will make glasses and VR crap the very second iPhones and MacBooks stop selling. They will buy up all the spaghetti they can buy and just go to town.

          …CEO Steve Balmer have been wooed out of retirement to run Apple by then.

        2. And people can tell when you are wearing (camera recording capable) glasses.
          They were also ugly.
          They were also half baked.
          . . . and they ARE currently taboo.

    1. I would retort by asking if you would be more willing to wear glasses or maybe in the future contact lenses if they offer a HUD that relays information to you as well as augmented reality capabilities. Maybe even other things that I haven’t thought of. Would that not be a device if interest?

        1. Just because it doesn’t solve a “problem”, it does not mean it won’t serve a use or fill a desire. You could also make the same argument about smart phones. Before the internet came to the phone we had internet connection with desktops. There was no “problem” with only having it on the desktop. It didn’t have to come to the phone; but it did. It filled a desire and made the world more productive. Would you say that internet on the phone is pointless?

          Augmented reality could serve a huge purpose even though it doesn’t actually solve a “problem”.

        2. “Dumbest idea ever”. People don’t need to have a computer in their home.

          “Dumbest idea ever.” People don’t need to carry around a computer.

          “Dumbest idea ever.” Phones are for making phone calls.

        3. Putting the internet in my phone did solve a whole lot of problems. Before then, if I wanted or needed to look something up online, check email, etc…I needed to wait until I got home and turned on my computer.

          Having the internet in my pocket changed everything; definitely solved a whole of problems for a whole lot of people.

        4. I guess it depends on your definition of a problem. I would have said that what you are saying is a desire to bring it to the phone.

          But by the same logic, designers now have to visualize and construct a 3D object in 2D space on their computers right now. With augmented reality I think their productivity could increase by being able to interact and visualize that 3D object in 3D space. It’s not really a problem but some might say that right now it is.

          But I do see your point as well.

        5. “totally pointless made up answers to problems no one actually has.”

          This shows either just abject trolling or a complete lack of understanding of human motivation and of business.

          If we go ultra-simple, there are two sides to human motivation:
          – Avoid the negative – avoide pain/solve problems
          – Gain the positive – pleasure, fun, excitement, intellectual interest

          People don’t play tennis to solve a problem. People don’t climb a mountain, go snowboarding, visit an art gallery, watch a hummingbird, eat a delicious meal, etc. to “solve a problem”.

    2. Sunglasses anyone???

      As far as “having to” as opposed to “wanting to”, don’t you think maybe 20/20 sighted people might have an interest in a device with augmented reality and internet access that is about as private as one could get? There’s quite a bit of potential here if you think about it.

      1. I personally would like to see a version of reading glasses. You could be reading a book and with augmented reality capabilities you could start to view images or diagrams that follow what you are reading in the page. That may sound a bit futuristic and even a little childish but I think that would be an interesting application for third party developers to actually books come “alive”

        1. Of course it’s not. But you don’t see how it can be used to give children a passion for reading? How text books can be supplemented more easily with interactive picture or animations of complex ideas? I’m sure others here can come up with other examples as well. You could try using your imagination a little bit.

          Also it was just an idea that I thought would be interesting to maybe think about.

    1. Exactly.

      Mike Elgan arguing that Apple would need to make them if everybody else were making them overlooks the recent situation with Netbooks where everybody else was making them and observers were all proclaiming that Apple absolutely had to make Netbooks too. Apple never made Netbooks and instead waited until they had a worthwhile product to offer instead ( iPad ).

      I am totally confident that Apple is actively researching possibilities for smart glasses, but I would never expect Apple to release a ‘me too’ product. Instead they will keep up the development effort until they have identified a real and distinctive role for smart glasses, together with a business model to make them viable.

  1. Because Google and Snap are so successful?

    With Cook The Follower on the throne, then it doesn’t surprise me. Apple has been chasing after fads with me-too products ever since Cook took over.

      1. Except that before Apple entered those markets, portable music and mobile phones had already proven themselves to be profitable markets.

        In portable music, there had been the big hits of the Walkman and portable CD players. The iPod took it to the next level.

        Of course, before iPhone, the mobile phone market was booming, only to boom more after Apple entered.

  2. I suspect something like this is happening– Photos already is doing object recognition for a number of common things. This would be useful for augmented reality apps, just like for some sort of car AI. Whether it all sees the light of day in a consumer product though remains to be seen.

  3. Smart glasses seem like an idea that will eventually come to the masses…

    However, personally I don’t want tech getting too intrusive on me. I mean, do we really need another device that will compete for our attention, enable us to be shut out of reality in yet another way, make our lives even busier than they have to?

    Just because a technology can be done doesn’t mean it should be done or it will be beneficial.

    I will definitely keep an open mind to smart glasses, and if Apple ever did come out with this, I would try it out. But I will reserve judgment.

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