APPLE has invented a design for smart glasses that could offer virtual reality features, but with a uniquely lightweight design.
The new smart-specs design shows a device that would rival Facebook's Oculus Rift headset, or even the Microsoft HoloLens – and could be here as soon as 2019, The Sun has learned.
An expert told us that the design, which was revealed in a new patent application published last week, will be rolled out next year in a device called Apple Glass.
It reveals what Apple might be cooking up behind closed doors: a virtual reality headset of its own.
The new device uses a "catadioptric system" that uses curved mirrors and lenses to combine refraction and reflection.
This means that Apple could ditch the magnifying lenses you find in most traditional VR headsets, potentially reducing the overall weight.
In Apple's own patent, the company admits that current virtual reality and augmented reality headsets are too heavy.
"If care is not taken, a head-mounted display may be cumbersome and tiring to wear."
The company adds: "Extended use of a head-mounted display with this type of optical system may be uncomfortable."
Virtual Reality v.s. Augmented Reality – what's the difference?
Here's what you need to know...
- Virtual reality involves using a headset to simulate a virtual world
- In a VR world, everything you see will be computer-generated
- Popular VR headsets include the HTC Vive and Facebook's Oculus Rift
- Augmented reality lets you see the real world, but "augments" (or adds on) computer-generated elements
- This means you'll be able to see computer images overlaid onto your real-world view
- For instance, you could wear glasses that overlay directions onto the road in front of you
- Popular AR headsets include Microsoft's HoloLens and the Google Glass spectacles
These "bulky and heavy" offerings from rivals could be replaced by Apple's lighter gadget, if it ever comes into existence.
Sadly, this is simply a patent application, which means there's no telling whether Apple will ever create such a device.
Even if Apple is working on a pair of smart glasses (and the general consensus is that it is), then we could still be years away from the launch of such a device.
Speaking to The Sun, a top analyst at GBH Insights revealed that Apple's device might nearly be here.
"We believe Apple will be launching smart glasses called Apple Glass in 2019, with its own AR headset," expert Daniel Ives explained.
"While this has been a late entrant from an AR/VR perspective, we believe Apple Glass will be the next step in the wearable category for Apple.
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"If it has the Apple logo on it and Cupertino [where Apple is based] puts its marketing power behind this, Apple Glass could help carry the torch from Apple Watch as another wearable area for the company over the coming years."
Apple hasn't confirmed plans to debut any smart glasses just yet, but it's likely that the company is working on such a device.
Most of its competitors have already dabbled in virtual reality and augmented reality, including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Samsung, LG, and HTC.
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