Glasses on iPhone 11 ProSource: iMore

What you need to know

  • Apple's semitransparent lenses have entered trial production.
  • That's according to a new report from The Information.
  • These lenses would feature in a new Apple AR device of some kind.

Apple has reportedly started trial production of semitransparent lenses to be used in an AR device of the future, according to reports.

As noted by The Information:

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted key parts of Apple's business, but it hasn't derailed the company's plans to build what could be its next important technology platform—augmented reality devices.

The Information has learned that Apple is working with Taiwan's Foxconn Technology, Apple's largest contract manufacturer and the one responsible for building most iPhones, to develop semitransparent lenses for its AR devices. As of two months ago, the lenses—considered one of the most essential elements of the head-worn devices—had passed the prototype stage and entered trial production, a person familiar with the matter said.

According to the report, the lenses are at least one to two years away from mass production, as is the product they are being created for. It is not established within the report whether these lenses are for Apple's AR/VR headset, or its lightweight notification glasses dubbed 'Apple Glass', Apple is working on both. The report notes Apple needs to establish whether it can "reliably manufacture" millions of lenses in order to mass-produce these devices.

Most recently in June, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman detailed that Apple is working on two distinct virtual/augmented reality products. Codenamed N301, one is a VR headset that looks like a smaller Oculus Quest, focused on gaming. The second product is AR Glasses, from the report:

Gurman also briefly mentions that Apple's AR glasses will be released "by 2023 at the earliest." This is of course in direct contrast to rumors from Jon Prosser who has suggested that Apple could announce Apple Glass as early as later this year, with a public release next year in Q4, or Q1 2022. There's been plenty of Twitter back-and-forth regarding the veracity of these reports. Regardless, we definitely know Apple is working on an AR/VR project, as well as a lightweight set of glasses. Who knows when we'll get to see either.