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  1. #1
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    Could Apple Really Be 3-5 Years Ahead Of Everyone on Augmented Reality?

    A report broke back in November indicating that Apple has been pumping millions, if not billions of dollars into a secretive augmented reality project. The project, which was said to go in two directions; one for AR headsets that function with the iPhone, the other for self-driving vehicles, was also said to be incredibly advanced.

    According to KGI securities, who has a long history of analyzing supply chain data, Apple plans to release an AR product over the next couple of years, and it would be 3-5 years ahead of everyone else in terms of capabilities. While everyone else is concentrating on virtual reality, Apple plans to concentrate on AR, leapfrogging any potential competitors.

    "All of Apple’s past successes were related to human-machine interfaces, such as mouse for Mac, click wheel for iPod, and multi-touch for iPhone and iPad. Assuming Apple successfully develops AR, we predict the firm will enjoy the following competitive advantages: (1) redefining existing key products and leading competitors by three to five years. For instance, this could happen for iPhone, iPad and Mac; (2) eliminating obstacles of Apple Watch and Apple TV by offering an innovative user experience; and (3) entering new business fields, such as autonomous driving system," wrote KGI.
    So the question is, could Apple advance far enough over the next 10-20 months in order to release a product that could put them 3-5 years ahead of competitors? In my opinion it would be quite tough. There are already so many companies working on AR technology, and unless Apple continues to acquire such companies, they likely would only be able to rely on their own ecosystem to provide such a boost. Apple could easily announce a product and thanks to their hundreds of millions of users instantly turn that product into a mass success. This could then help them leapfrog the competition in terms of sales for a good 2-3 years like with the iPhone, but Google too has a huge Android ecosystem which they could quickly turn the tables on Apple with within a matter of 2-3 years.

    Regardless, this report does have me excited as it means we may be seeing significant improvements with mobile AR tech by late 2018, and that's only a good thing for the entire industry.
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  2. #2
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    It is very possible that Apple AR will be revolutionary, because most other companies are concentrating on VR. While VR is making strides, current display's resolution, periphery, and refresh rates induce suspension of belief, sickness, and limit immersion. AR, on the other hand, could add value to the world in front of users. Industrial uses abound for this, and can do wonders for HUDs whilst travelling, for example. I will adopt a wait and see attitude until they unveil and demonstrate the capabilities of their AR solution.

  3. #3
    Junior Member eddieoffermann's Avatar
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    The ones to beat right now for an AR platform are Microsoft and PTC. Companies like Snap are clearly pushing their presence as AR software providers, they're just not the kind of tech company that's likely to dominate the future AR market.

    Microsoft has the only ready-to-go headset (it's expensive but price is not insurmountable) and PTC has the most robust and widely used object and image recognition engine (and strong ties to IOT). Other players like Epson and ODG for hardware and the many other AR SDK vendors aren't positioned nearly as well, though they'll likely find a niche.

    Apple rolls into this owning the one object and image recognition and SLAM solution (Metaio) that handily beats PTC's Vuforia. They own PrimeSense - the company that developed the original RealSense and Kinect sensor tech, and the they've gobbled up an ever wider range of platform companies for facial recognition, emotion sensing, machine learning, and recently (as of December) another indoor mapping and location company. They bought LuxVue almost three years ago now - a stealthy micro-LED display company whose tech was widely rumored to be the next display technology that "Google Glass 2.0" was supposed to use. I strongly suspect they've been designing AR eyewear since at least 2013.

    With Apple also being a dominating force in the one area that everything else lacks - the ecosystem - they're a colossus.

    Microsoft accomplished HoloLens by adopting an Apple-like development process. They got *way* out of their comfort zone and got into chip design and hardware manufacture to build the HPU. They relied heavily on tech from their gaming division, driving spatial understanding with Kinect sensors to produce by far the most responsive headset in the public eye. They're not quite there with interaction design - it's close but still a definite weak spot for HoloLens. Yet, it's amazing. This is an area that Apple has leading expertise - and we can be sure that UX is perhaps their highest priority, above display quality, above processing power, above a lot of things.

    Since much of the tech from Apple's prior acquisitions was previously visible to the world, we know that they have SLAM solutions, facial recognition, image and object recognition and spatial understanding solutions that match or exceed what HoloLens is capable of; we know they own a micro LED display company for see-through AR displays - all of which gives them a lot of design and development opportunities that don't involve placing orders with suppliers that might get leaked.

    When you combine that with reports that they've dissolved the distinction between OSX and iOS for internal development, and that they've de-prioritized work on the Mac line altogether - without laying off thousands of engineers - that suggests those people are working on something else.

    When you further explore what exactly the roughly 1000 engineers are doing at their top secret R&D center in Israel (engineering hirings there are heavily weighted towards SoC design, Electro-Optical Engineering, and Computer Vision ) I think it's clear there's a monumental piece of original tech on the way.
    Last edited by eddieoffermann; 01-11-2017 at 08:20 PM.

  4. #4

    Apple Lead in AR

    Apple bought Metaio/Junaio in May of 2015. At that time Metaio was way ahead of where all the AR competitors are today 18 months later. We were creating AR experiences using Metaio that are just barely doable today with workarounds galore. Metaio was in beta with facial recognition at that time as well. All the current AR players have been playing catchup trying to fill the void left after Apple shut down Metaio. Apple picked up that software/team, eliminated the distraction of maintaining a public product, and has been focusing on development. Of course they should be years ahead when they release.


    Quote Originally Posted by WildPhil1988 View Post
    A report broke back in November indicating that Apple has been pumping millions, if not billions of dollars into a secretive augmented reality project. The project, which was said to go in two directions; one for AR headsets that function with the iPhone, the other for self-driving vehicles, was also said to be incredibly advanced.

    According to KGI securities, who has a long history of analyzing supply chain data, Apple plans to release an AR product over the next couple of years, and it would be 3-5 years ahead of everyone else in terms of capabilities. While everyone else is concentrating on virtual reality, Apple plans to concentrate on AR, leapfrogging any potential competitors.


    So the question is, could Apple advance far enough over the next 10-20 months in order to release a product that could put them 3-5 years ahead of competitors? In my opinion it would be quite tough. There are already so many companies working on AR technology, and unless Apple continues to acquire such companies, they likely would only be able to rely on their own ecosystem to provide such a boost. Apple could easily announce a product and thanks to their hundreds of millions of users instantly turn that product into a mass success. This could then help them leapfrog the competition in terms of sales for a good 2-3 years like with the iPhone, but Google too has a huge Android ecosystem which they could quickly turn the tables on Apple with within a matter of 2-3 years.

    Regardless, this report does have me excited as it means we may be seeing significant improvements with mobile AR tech by late 2018, and that's only a good thing for the entire industry.
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  5. #5
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    "Apple plans to concentrate on AR, leapfrogging any potential competitors. "


    Excepting of course that MSFT beat them to market, by several years, and is currently available. Being the best product (betamax) doesn't mean you're going to be the industry leader, or anything more than an also ran.

  6. #6
    It makes perfect sense that they will jump right to AR. In all honesty VR on a mobile device get boring after a while. Just not enough computing power yet, and the premium headsets like Gear Vr and Daydream aren't all that much better than Google Cardboard which can be used on an iPhone.

    I'm not saying VR is useless on mobile, but Augmented Reality is what will change people's lives.

  7. #7
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    Apple is definitely spending a ton of money and resources on VR/AR tech, and we've seen the crazy amount of related hiring and acquisitions take place over the years. We know they've been working on the technology for years now, so you have to imagine they have something quite innovative up their sleeve. They can't simply be creating a knock-off of the Gear VR or Daydream. That would take this long, nor would it cost this much money. Apple sees AR as a huge market for the future and I think they plan on doing it BIG. Whether it is this year with the release of the new iPhone or in 2-3 years from now, I don't know, but I expect something breathtaking.

  8. #8
    Administrator vrtalk's Avatar
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    This is something I feel Apple really needs to hit on. If they miss their shareholders could be in for a disappointment. I think Apple realizes this too, so here's hoping we see something really innovative from Tim Cook and company.
    Comments posted as plain-colored text are my own and not necessarily endorsed by VRTalk.
    Comments posted in blue are official Moderator comments.

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