Could Apple’s long-speculated AR glasses still be in development?
Earlier this year, rumors generated by patents submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office suggested that a wearable augmented reality device could potentially be in development at Apple. Among the applications was a patent for a mixed reality experience that included eye, gesture, and face tracking powered via a “head-mounted display.”
Despite these numerous filings, however, Chinese tech publication DigiTimes reported in July that the company had ceased development of the AR glasses as well as “temporarily stopped” working on the new technology, implying that the project had been disbanded back in May. This all followed a report by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo back in March that claimed the headset was wrapping its production stage and could be hitting the market as soon as 2020.
According to code found within Apple’s upcoming iOS 13 update, however, it appears as though the company’s long-rumored AR head-mounted display may not be as dead as we thought.
This past week developers, tinkerers, and Apple enthusiasts have been digging through an internal build of the companies latest mobile operating system update; so far they’ve discovered a yet-to-be-announced AR-based tracking device, several exciting updates to Apple Maps, as well as the ability to generate single-use randomized email addresses for increased privacy.
Most exciting, however, has been the discovery of several strings of code that could potentially indicate the existence of an AR-enable head-mounted display. According to reports by MacRumors, an app referred to as “STARTester” is referenced in the internal build; this tool supposedly allows users to alternate between a standard 2D experience and immersive “head-mounted” mode. This “head-mounted” mode offers two different ‘states’ designed for testing purposes: “worn” and “held.”
While the exact purpose of the app remains unclear, a README file included in the build details a “StarBoard” system shell designed specifically for stereo AR apps. Odds are this app is used to let developers test headset-based interfaces on standard iOS devices. This same file also hints at an AR headset device codenamed “Garta.”
Other clues include references to various “scenes” and “views,” as well as several strings of code mentioning an “ARStarBoardViewController” and “ARStarBoardSceneManager.”
Featured Image Credit: Apple