Like the layers of an onion, 2021 continues to provide new hints of Apple’s rather secretive augmented reality device development.
The latest layer gives us additional insight into the specific components that Apple wants to build into its AR product.
With reference to sources close to the situation, Nikkei Asia reports that Apple has partnered with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to develop less than one-inch micro-OLED displays for its underdeveloped augmented reality wearables. The displays will reportedly take a few years to reach mass production.
Compared to LCD or OLED screens, micro OLEDs are thinner, smaller and more energy efficient, making them ideal for use in future AR smartglasses intended to follow the VR / AR hybrid expected to be released next year. In comparison, Vuzix̵
So far this year we’ve learned that Apple’s first VR / AR headset will likely include dual 8k displays, LiDAR, a plethora of cameras, eye tracking and interchangeable headbands, with a likely landing date in Q1 2022. We have also heard that Apple is currently in the second phase of its product development, which is supposedly intended as a developer-centered device.
However, we know less about the slimmer, consumer-friendly smartglasses that will follow. Previous reports have pinned them for arrival in 2023, but more recent reports say they are years away from being ready for primetime, which is in line with the micro OLED schedule for mass production.
All of this should be taken with some skepticism as these devices are only real when CEO Tim Cook and his team reveal them on stage. But it seems more and more likely that we’ll see something in the next 12 months.