Apple seems to have gotten a bit more serious about their Augmented Reality headset project with the purchase of Longmont, Colorado-based Akonia Holographics, a company which specializes in making displays for augmented reality glasses.
Akonia Holographics, founded in 2012, claims a portfolio of more than 200 patents related to holographic systems and materials, and says its display technology allows for “thin, transparent smart glass lenses that display vibrant, full-color, wide field-of-view images.”
On their website they note:
Akonia Holographics is pioneering the world’s first commercially available volume holographic reflective and waveguide optics for transparent display elements in smart glasses. Volume holography offers a unique combination of performance, transparency and low cost that will revolutionize the smart glass display industry. With its ultra-clear, full-color performance, Akonia’s HoloMirrorTM technology enables the thinnest, lightest head worn displays in the world. Looking forward, Akonia has already defined the technology required to achieve future improvements including even greater field-of-view (FOV) and light efficiency.
Akonia competes on five primary performance metrics:
- Full color (RGB)
- High Field-of-View (FOV)
- Production Cost
Utilizing only a single layer of media, volume holography not only produces the thinnest full-color head worn display optic possible today, but also dramatically reduces overall system complexity. Our experience, IP portfolio and proprietary media combine to create a platform that can produce customized optical elements for a wide variety of smart glass display architectures. Using a fundamentally different approach than thin holography or surface relief gratings, Akonia’s HoloMirrorTM allows for dramatically higher performance than any holographic element in the past.).
Apple has been rumoured to be working on augmented reality glasses for some years now, though recently analysts have suggested a launch before late 2019 or 2020 would be unlikely.
CEO Tim Cook has previously said Augmented Reality was “a big idea like the smartphone” that would be “huge” and “for everyone.”
Apple for its part did not comment much on the acquisition, only saying “Apple buys smaller companies from time to time, and we generally don’t discuss our purpose or plans.”