Apple acquires Akonia Holographics, AR headset rumours return

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Speculation that Apple may soon launch its own augmented reality (AR) headset has returned after the Cupertino-based company confirmed its acquisition of Akonia Holographics.

The i-Phone maker recently confirmed the buyout, though no financial details on the deal were revealed. In a statement to Reuters, Apple explained that it “buys smaller companies from time to time, and we generally don't discuss our purpose or plans.”

The Colorado-based Akonia was founded in 2012 by holography scientists and the firm has developed a new technology called HoloMirror that allows users to view the physical world with a layer of AR overlaid on top. What sets the technology apart from other AR offerings is that it is suitable for low-cost consumer AR headsets.

Akonia's display technology allows for “thin, transparent smart glass lenses that display vibrant, full-color, wide field-of-view images”. The company also possesses a strong patent portfolio with more than 200 patents related to holographic systems and materials.

While Google Glass captured the public's attention when it was first released in 2013, the technology was cost prohibitive to consumers and failed to take off.

Earlier this year reports suggested that Apple is working on its own wireless VR headset that could house two 8k displays. The rumoured headset is being built by the company's engineers and would also feature a custom operating system called the “reality operating system” (rOS).

Apple's acquisition of Akonia is in line with Tim Cook's enthusiasm over AR which the company added to its  iPhones and iPads through its ARKit. As is generally the case with acquisitions focused on new technology, we will likely see Akonia's tech make its way into Apple's products in the future.

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