Apple, Apple Music, iOS

At this point of time, one can bet that Apple’s next innovation would be an augmented reality solution. Tim Cook has already shared his vision about an AR-laden future and Cupertino might just be gearing up to take the very first step. Today, fresh reports from UBS analyst Steven Milunovich suggests the tech giant may have “over 1,000 engineers in Israel working on projects that could be related to AR.”

In his research report, Milunovish further goes on to add that Apple slowly plans to roll out this technology in stages, until it becomes more mainstream. Augmented Reality will broadly lie in the company’s roadmap once it reaches a level of maturity for their brand is what the analysts say. And it might in fact, not be completely incorrect, as he further adds that Apple presently plans to introduce AR technology as early as with their next iPhone.

He further shares his opinion saying that the Apple could equip the next iPad lineup (expected to launch sometime in April) and the iPhone 8 (not making an appearance anytime before fall) with AR-enabled hardware. This means your next iPhone may come with sensors, 3D cameras, and new custom chips in tow. The full vision of the technology will, however, be realized in the coming two or three years.

His research states that its augmented reality capabilities will be based on a technology called Simultaneous Localization and Mapping, which Apple gained through the acquisition of AR startup Metaio in 2015. Known as SLM, the tech has been described as under:

SLAM solves the chicken and egg problem of mapping a space without prior knowledge. The device starts from one angle and collects points of data. As the device moves, it observes how objects shift and begins to fuse data to create an environment. As the 3D map is forming, the device begins to understand its own position in the context of the environment it is trying to map.

This report falls in line with previous speculations by widely known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo from KGI Securities. In his report, he claimed that the tech giant is planning to introduce a new front-facing camera module with the iPhone 8. The camera will be coupled with an IR module which will help capture depth, thus, giving you a sense of 3D space in from of it. This information can then be used for augmented reality purposes.

These claims are further bolstered by Apple’s repeated strides in the augmented reality segment by repeated showcase of interest in the technology, recent staff hires coupled with acquisitions. Just recently, the tech giant quietly picked up Israeli facial recognition startup RealFace, a cybersecurity firm specializing in facial recognition technology. There is no doubt that it might be looking to integrate the said feature into their phones to go head-to-head with Samsung’s iris recognition tech.

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