Apple. Picture: REUTERS
Apple. Picture: REUTERS

San Francisco — Apple hays acquired Akonia Holographics, a six-year-old maker of displays for augmented-reality (AR) glasses, as the iPhone maker forays into the burgeoning field.

Apple, seeking a breakthrough product to succeed the iPhone, is said to be prepping to ship an AR headset or device as early as 2020. Akonia’s "HoloMirror" technology is designed to project full-colour images onto the transparent glass lenses of AR headsets, according to its website, a capability that will dovetail with the US giant’s own efforts.

Apple confirmed the deal, first reported by Reuters, via the typical statement it uses to verify acquisitions of smaller start-ups.

While virtual reality immerses the user in a digital world, AR is intended to overlay visuals and data onto the real one — allowing users, for instance, to look up details on objects and buildings in their field of view, or a mechanic to scan repair instructions. It’s been touted as having wider mass-market appeal than VR, and Apple CEO Tim Cook has talked up its prospects on several occasions.

However, the US giant will have to contend with a number of rivals, including Amazon and Google, also exploring future applications for the nascent technology.