Why it matters: For quite some time Apple has driven a strong "innovation by merger & acquistion" approach. It has always signaled important changes in their business by previously acquiring the necessary IP to enable new product lines, which leads us to believe that an AR device, such as a lightweight headset or Google Glass-like eyeglasses could soon be a reality.
Apple has acquired a small tech company founded by holography scientists, Akonia Holographics (pictured above, Akonia CEO Ken Anderson). The Denver, Colorado-based company whose main business is to build holographic projectors and waveguide lenses for augmented reality headsets, giving added strength to longstanding rumors that Apple is making a move into the AR space.
Akonia Holographics holds over 200 patents in holography, according to its company brief, and its HoloMirror smartglass technology which, it says, "enables the thinnest, lightest head worn displays in the world," is set to bring some needed innovation into the AR headset business. In fact, previous disclosures of the company's strategy, had positioned it as a provider of components and licenser of IP to companies such as Oculus or Microsoft who developed the Oculus Rift and HoloLens AR headsets. What has thus far distinguished Akonia from the crowd is that its holographic and waveguide technology brings color rendering, clarity, field-of-view and low-cost to the game.
Now, it seems, Akonia Holographics will be brought into the Apple fold, and used to power a product line of AR headsets, with technology that could, one day, be as accessible as high-end prescription eyeglasses.
According to Reuters, who originally broke the story, Apple did not comment on the acquisition, nor on unreleased or in-development products. Apple's strategy in the AR/VR arena has, thus far, restricted itself to iOS augmented reality apps which superimpose and manipulate visualized data input through the iPhone cameras and output on the screen, in a fashion similar to Ingress, or its more notable brother, Pokémon Go!.
Moving forward, we'd expect Apple to integrate Akonia's technology and release a new AR DevKit in 2019.