The next big technology revolution is imminent - and we will wear it on our faces. Apple, Google, Facebook: if you believe the rumours, the three biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley are currently working on glasses with AR (augmented reality) features.
Google was the first of the three companies to launch AR glasses in 2013 with Google Glass. Apple, meanwhile, hasn't officially announced anything, but rumours refuse to die - unsurprisingly, because the company has repeatedly shown how important it considers the topic to be.
With the LiDAR scanner, which was only introduced this year, users can experience highly accurate AR applications on their iPad Pro (2020), and rumours suggest the iPhone 12 will be equipped with LiDAR too. According to a report from late 2019, Apple plans to launch an AR headset in 2022, followed by smart glasses in 2023.
Which leaves Facebook.
In a recent interview with The Verge, CEO Mark Zuckerberg discussed the company's plans in this area, and pointedly snubbed heads-up displays and remote processing, two systems that Apple reportedly wants to use in the first-generation Apple Glass product. These technologies are unsuitable for AR applications, Zuckerberg argued.
Unlike Apple, Facebook has officially announced that it's working on a set of AR glasses, and the research prototype Project Aria will soon begin testing among staff. But don't expect the consumer version of this technology to launch until next year - and Facebook is looking well beyond that for the point at which it can go mainstream. Zuckerberg said he hopes Facebook will manage to install AR technology in "more normal-looking glasses in the first part of this decade or the first half of this decade".
The biggest problem at the moment is to build the necessary computing power into a small glasses frame. According to Zuckerberg, the AR experience can only be good if "normal-looking glasses" can project holograms on to real-world scenes, something that's well beyond current hardware capabilities.
'I don't personally find that particularly compelling'
Not much is known about Facebook glasses just yet, but Zuckerberg was more forthcoming when discussing what the company definitely does not want to do with its glasses.
"The biggest shortcut that a lot of folks are trying to take is basically trying to not do full holograms in the world, and just show some heads-up information. I call that 'putting an Apple Watch on your face'," Zuckerberg said.
"I don't personally find that particularly compelling. It's not a product that we're particularly excited about making. Maybe someone else will make it."
As AppleInsider reports, the well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has already predicted that Apple will bring out a headset that will move processing and other tasks to the iPhone and leave the glasses unit as a simple display.
This isn't the first criticism Zuckerberg has levelled at Apple. Earlier this month he attacked the App Store and said it should be investigated for its "unilateral control" - while conceding that "I'm not necessarily the person to answer that".
This article originally appeared on Macwelt. Translation by David Price.