Apple Seeking to Boost Position in Augmented Reality Space, Buys AR Lens Startup

Apple AR Akonia
Image: Creative commons

It appears that Apple is seeking to boost its position in AR space with the acquisition of a startup focused on making lenses for augmented reality glasses, Reuters reported.

This is a signal that Apple is aiming to develop a wearable device that would bring components of the digital world into a person’s perception of the real world.

Apple confirmed that it acquired Colorado-based Akonia Holographics. “Apple buys smaller companies from time to time, and we generally don’t discuss our purpose or plans,” the company said in a statement.

Last month, noted Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster predicted that Apple could step into the augmented reality wearable market by releasing an AR headset in 2021,

Akonia, which is focused on making lenses for wearable headset displays, could help Apple create “thin, transparent smart glass lenses that display vibrant, full-color, wide field-of-view images.”

Apple has over 100 engineers working around the clock to explore both augmented reality and virtual reality headsets. Apple CEO Tim Cook is a vocal proponent of AR. “This is one of those huge things that we’ll look back at and marvel on the start of it,” Cook said of augmented reality on a conference call with investors last year. Apple’s ARKit platform is a proof that the company is serious about Augmented Reality.

Apple AR Akonia
Image: Creative commons

Akonia also said it raised $11.6 million in seed funding in 2012 and was seeking additional funding. Details on how much Apple paid for the company weren’t revealed.

Apple, in the past, has bought smaller companies whose technologies appeared years later in Apple’s products. In 2013, the company bought a small Israeli company called PrimeSense which focuses on making 3-D sensors. The iPhone X uses a similar sensor to power its facial recognition features.

Last year, it was reported by Bloomberg that Apple was developing AR glasses that could ship as early as 2020. Apple, however, declined to comment.

Akonia was founded in 2012 by a group of holography scientists. It had originally focused on holographic data storage before pivoting to creating displays for augmented reality glasses, the company said on its website. The company has cumulated a portfolio of over 200 patents related to holographic systems and products.