Apple Partner Lens Deal Reaffirms AR Glasses Are Coming

An Apple manufacturing partner has struck a deal with an augmented reality component maker to start producing lenses for AR smart glasses.

Quanta Computer, which assembles MacBooks and other devices for Apple, has reached a licensing agreement with Israel-based AR company Lumus Ltd., Bloomberg reported on Monday. As part of that deal, Quanta will start manufacturing lenses for Lumus and will have the option to produce those lenses for leading tech companies (like Apple).

Lumus designs displays for augmented reality products, including a technology that projects information into a wearer’s field of view. That’s the basic premise of AR glasses, and due to this new licensing deal and the decreasing cost of the components as a result, it’s coming closer to a consumer product reality.

“This means that the most expensive key enabling technology in the AR glasses teardown will now be affordably priced, effectively bringing down the overall cost of consumer AR glasses,” Lumus CEO Ari Grobman told Bloomberg. “Quanta has suggested that full AR headsets would be priced for less than the cost of a high-end cell phone. That’s a big deal.”

Apple’s AR Glasses

Apple is hard at work developing its own proprietary AR headset — including a new operating system called “rOS.” Apple’s headset would feature deep integration with Siri, and could display texts, maps and other information in the wearer’s glasses.

While Apple is undoubtedly still working out the kinks, sources suggest that the rOS headset could be controlled through a mixture of touch controls, head or hand gestures, and voice commands. rOS would be based on iOS, but would not need a connected iPhone to operate fully. The AR operating system could feature its own App Store with a variety of applications from 360-degree video playback to AR navigation.

Other Reports

While Quanta’s new agreement with Lumus fills in certain pieces of the bigger picture, this isn’t the first time that the key Apple supply chain partner has been mentioned in correlation with a Cupertino-developed AR headset. According to a Nov. 15 report by Nikkei, Quanta wants to produce a mass-market AR headsets by 2019 — with many analysts forecasting that Apple has tapped the company.

While Bloomberg’s suggests that Apple’s AR headset will drop by 2020, Quanta’s comments and research by analyst Jeffrey Pu of Taipei-based Yuanta Investment Consulting could hint at a sooner release date. Pu forecasts that Apple could release an AR headset as soon as 2019, and even Bloomberg’s sources agree that the Cupertino tech giant is likely to have the technology ready by then.

From CEO Tim Cook’s own comments on the matter to the variety of patents and acquisitions related to augmented reality, Apple’s ambitions in the AR sphere haven’t exactly been secret. But these new reports corroborate that an Apple AR headset is indeed on the way.

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