Apple snaps-up AR lenses startup

The company's patents could be used in apple's first AR product launching next year

Apple bought robotic contact lens and AR glasses startup Akonia Holographics, the company has revealed.

Akonia Holographics has developed the technology that can display full-colour, wide-view images on a thin, transparent piece of glass such as a contact lens. It could potentially be used for glasses, mobile or computer screens, with the company describing its tech as the "world's first commercially available volume holographic reflective and waveguide optics for transparent display elements in smart glasses." 

But it's probably the patents Apple is most interested in. In total, the startup owns more than 200 related to holographic systems and materials used to project images and Apple is seemingly very interested in augmented reality.

"This is one of those huge things that we'll look back at and marvel on the start of it," Tim Cook said of the tech in a conference call with investors last year.

Apple isn't a stranger to acquiring small imaging startups, with the purchase of Primesense five years ago.

Apple is keeping quiet about its intentions with this latest buy, with a spokesperson commeting: "Apple buys smaller companies from time to time, and we generally don't discuss our purpose or plans."

It does look likely that the firm will use Akonia's technology in its smart glasses or an alternative augmented reality product that could launch as early as next year, but whether it uses Akonia's technology or just its patents will not become clear until later down the line.

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