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Home / Technology / Apple buys AR headset lens maker Akonia Holographics, burning "Apple Glasses" rumors

Apple buys AR headset lens maker Akonia Holographics, burning "Apple Glasses" rumors



Apple confirmed Wednesday the purchase of Colorado-based Akonia Holographics, a startup focused on the development and production of specialty augmented reality headset lenses.

Magic Leap AR Headset

The terms of the purchase are unknown, although Apple has issued its usual non-acknowledgment of receipt for the reported purchase to Reuters .

"Apple buys smaller companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or our plans," Apple said in a statement.

According to a manager of the AR industry, Akonia's team has been "very quiet" for the past six months, suggesting that Apple has completed the purchase this year.

Akonia's goal was to develop holographic data storage solutions, but the company quickly switched to displays for AR goggles. The company's flagship product, HoloMirror, uses "proprietary holographic data carriers and know-how to uniquely enable thin, transparent Smart Glass lenses that display vivid, full-color images with a wide field of view," states the website ,

Akonia claims that its technology will "revolutionize the smart-glass display industry" and provide manufacturers with "ultra-clear, full-color performance" in thin and lightweight headsets. Unlike similar Magic Leap solutions, where waveguides direct graphical information to multiple display layers positioned in front of a user, HoloMirror uses a single layer of media. The method not only reduces system complexity, but also allows integration into small form factors like traditional eyewear.

The company has a cache of more than 200 patents related to holographic systems and materials, although it is not clear how many AR wearables they cover. Perhaps more importantly, Akonia says it has "defined the technology" that will pave the way for improvements, including a wider field of vision. With respect to AR, FOV is a key component of AR immersion. Using a low-FOV-AR device overlays computer-generated graphics over real objects, but the illusion ends abruptly at the edges of each display. High-FOV devices seem to be more immersive, extending the CGI field to the outer areas of a user's view.

For example, critics of Magic Leap's recently released mixed-reality headsets have said that the system suffers from a relatively low FOV, bringing it out of the AR experience.

The acquisition provides insight into Apple's rumored kitchen "Apple Glasses," an in-house AR headset that is expected to ship in the next few years. Last year's report claimed that the tech giant is developing its own display and its own processor for the project, a route that is expected to require significant resources in both hardware and software engineering.

Reports earlier this year claim that the device, referred to internally as "T288," currently uses ultra-high-resolution 8K displays and a separate processing unit to overlay virtual images over real objects in the user's field of view. If Apple wants to take the package off and release it as an aesthetically pleasing product, these displays would require extremely thin and transparent lenses. Akonia's technology could offer such a solution.

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