A new report from The Information says Foxconn Technology has moved into “trial production” on “semitransparent” lenses for Apple’s AR efforts.
The report indicates that Apple’s partner in iPhone production moved from the prototype stage to trial production of the critical component. Dueling reports in the past few months from Mark Gurman at Bloomberg and reporters for The Information have tried to zero in on Apple’s plans for VR and AR.
It is believed Apple is still some time away from shipping anything to compete with Facebook’s Oculus Quest — a VR headset which targets indoor use. Meanwhile, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has made comments suggesting he sees huge opportunity in AR. The issue is that there are still enormous technical hurdles to overcome before anyone can ship lightweight AR glasses you use outside the home to insert digital objects into your view. Camera-laden VR headsets, of course, can also provide a passthrough way of seeing the environment around the person wearing the device and thus provide certain features through a kind of AR-in-VR mode. Windows MR headsets, Oculus Quest and Valve Index, for instance, all feature modes that let you view the environment on the other side of the otherwise opaque display.
Microsoft’s HoloLens, of course, is a relatively bulky but completely standalone AR headset and the company has encountered some issues with the display technology.
This is all to say that while The Information reports Apple and its Foxconn partner have been in development for three years with these lenses, it’s unclear exactly what kind of device they are meant for and precisely how far away that device might be from shipping to consumers.