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Report: Apple’s AR glasses product may rely on iPhone for main display, use 3D cameras

A new report from the Financial Times offers an update on the progress of Apple’s AR glasses product rumored to be in development. According to the new details, the vision for Apple’s glasses product isn’t totally clear as of yet…

FT says the glasses product may include cameras, sensors, and screens to create an augmented reality experience, but some prototypes in testing have no screen and instead rely on the iPhone for a screen.

The report also says its unclear what the best use of the AR glasses may be even with Apple’s new ARKit framework out in the wild…

A particular area of experimentation, people familiar with the matter say, is a pair of AR glasses that might move cameras, sensors and screens from the smartphone to the face. Yet despite the excitement surrounding ARKit, internally the company is still not sure what the most compelling application for such a headset might be.

As a result, there are still several different kinds of prototype being experimented with, according to people close to the company. One group of engineers is said to be advocating for a pair of glasses that have 3D cameras but no screens, leaving the iPhone as the hub and main display.

The report goes on to say that the AR glasses could ultimately end up like more of an accessory similar to Snapchat’s $130 Spectacles rather than a state-of-the-art product like Microsoft’s hi-tech Hololens which is a shift from earlier FT reporting. 

Prior to Apple’s ARKit introduction, it was reported that Apple was developing new augmented reality technology first for the iPhone then for a glasses product that could be released as soon as next year.

Separately, one of these prototypes may have been detailed in an accident report mistakenly distributed to Apple employees earlier this year. Since the introduction of ARKit which will officially launch with iOS 11 later this fall, analysts have predicted the technology will be at the core of Apple’s rumored glasses product.

At any rate, FT‘s reporting clarifies that a final design for the rumored product is still undecided internally.

Mockup: Stuff

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Avatar for Zac Hall Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news for 9to5Mac and hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour and 9to5Mac Watch Time podcasts.