In November Patently Apple posted a report titled "A new Rumor Claims that Apple has Two Devices in the works Relating to Smartglasses with a 2022-2023 Timeline." The source of the story was The Information, though analyst Ming-Chi Kuo made a similar claim. Others have thrown darts at this product dart-board claiming Apple will launch a 'Glass' product in mid-2021… for sure. Whenever Apple decides to introduce AR smartglasses, it'll be because the right 5G technologies are available around the globe.
When Apple launched their first iPhone 3G model in 2008, it was able to introduce a number of improvements. The 3G standard was capable of download speeds ranging between 700 kbps to 1.7 megabits per second (Mbps) on AT&T's 3G network. (Update: For the record, the Korean article claimed that the original iPhone in 2007 was 3G and it was not. 3G was actually introduced in 2008.)
When 4G came to market, it was all about screen size. Data speeds which supported high-definition (HD) video streaming enabled smartphones to evolve into personal media devices. Google's Android-powered phone came to dominate, and screen sizes jumped from 3.5 inches (the size of the first iPhone) to 6.5 inches for leading phones today. It was Samsung that took advantage of the then-dubbed "Phablet" that Apple's Phil Schiller laughed at only to adopt the Phablet format years later with the iPhone 6.
4G achieved download speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps). Normal 4G download speeds average between 10-40 Mbps.
Each generational leap in download speeds introduced by telecom companies have led to meaningful new capabilities that have made smartphones better.
Apple will begin to shift iPhone's to 5G this fall and advancements in Millimeter Wave technology will improve over the next 1-3 years to ensure that true 5G delivers on its many promises.
A new tech report out of Korea last week noted that 5G will be defined by smartglasses. 5G is powerful enough to bring leapfrog download speeds and next-gen experiences. More importantly, next-gen devices which the industry is forecasting will be smartglasses and advanced HMDs.
Chris Lane, the lead writer of a 12-page analysis issued by Bernstein Research, said that "From a customer perspective, the most often quoted use cases are augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) as 5G will transform the basic interface from looking down at the screen to looking up at the world around."
Lane further noted that while the 5G network can support both AR and VR, it's AR which is set to profoundly change the way consumers view the world. Both Apple and Google have been introducing AR features to their smartphone operating systems. AR measurement apps, virtual AR games including Pokemon Go and lots of design apps already exist.
5G networks data delivery will enable the rendering of virtual images in front of users' eyes using a heads-up display (HUD). Lane suggests that in ordinary circumstances, the virtual image-based heads up display, which requires massive amounts of data, will make both walking and driving much easier and faster.
Given the variety of features and enhancements 5G technology has, major technology companies and startups alike are jumping all over the new technology dubbed "5G with smartglasses."
The global AR smart glasses market ecosystem was valued at some $440 million in 2018 and is expected to see "significant growth" to $2.7 billion by 2027 because AR has already captured the attention of top tech companies, despite it being true that the market is in its early stages of development.
Industry officials and analysts have claimed that only the "big names" in tech such as Apple, Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Amazon, Facebook and perhaps Snap will be able to work on advancing AR glasses that could make smartglasses the next big thing.
In late December 2019, Patently Apple posted a report titled "Facebook has been working on Smartglasses to Replace Smartphones that includes a secret new OS to make it happen." In 2007 it was Apple that shocked the market with the iPhone with 3G and there's no guarantee that Apple will be the 5G and 5G-Smartglasses winner.
The race to deliver the first and best smartglasses is on and it could be a very disruptive time until winners emerge. In the big picture, knowing the shear number of patents that Apple has on next-gen HMDs & Smartglasses, we can at least take comfort in knowing that Apple won't be one of the losers in this race. And let's be honest, Apple fans are hoping that Apple emerges as the leading brand because few will be able to deliver a properly balanced feature-set for hardware and powerful software via glassOS to get it just right.
U.S. telecom chip giant Qualcomm and 15 operator groups including China Mobile, China Telecom, NTT DoCoMo, KT, LG Uplus, SK Telecom, SoftBank, Verizon, Vodafone T-Mobile and others have throwing their weight behind "smartglasses" by announcing that they will work on making "5G XR" viewers available at both the consumer and enterprise level "within the next year." The report also added that "Apple is reportedly working on a pair of "AR 5G" glasses that look like regular spectacles."
Lane lastly noted that in addition to faster data speeds, which have evolved through previous network iterations, 5G will bring a 10x improvement in "theoretical latency." This is important for industrial automation and remote control of precision equipment and more importantly, vehicle-to-vehicle communication which Apple's Project Titan will be able to take advantage of.
At the end of the day, the exciting 5G era is just around the corner. Once the world gets through the COVID-19 pandemic and the senseless looting and rioting taking place in mostly cities controlled by Democrats, we'll finally be able to get back to focusing on technology and exciting new Apple products once again – especially Apple's coming smartglasses.