Ming-Chi Kuo is out with a new round of Rumors relating Apple's Future Eyewear including a long-call on Smart AR Contact Lenses
In late February Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple invents an AR Headset Display System with geometrical phase lenses that accurately merge display and real-world content." It was the first time that we noticed Apple mentioning the possible use of contact lens technology in context to delivering AR to users. Apple revealed a laundry list of possible sensors in that patent filing and at one point stated: "displays formed as lenses designed to be placed on a person's eyes (e.g., similar to contact lenses)."
Today, Ming-Chi Kuo, one of the top Apple analysts is back with another round of rumors and for the first time, he mentions a contact lens product. He's beng quoted as specifically stating the following:
" We predict that Apple's MR/AR product roadmap includes three phases: helmet type by 2022, glasses type by 2025, and contact lens type by 2030–2040," wrote Kuo. "We foresee that the helmet product will provide AR and VR experiences, while glasses and contact lens types of products are more likely to focus on AR applications."
The first headset style was predicted for 2022 by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman in January, so there's nothing new there. Bloomberg and other report had the AR glasses in the 2023-2025 time frame. So in this rumor from Kuo, it's only the mention of contact lenses that is new, after our report. Though giving it a time frame of 2030-2040 is ridiculous to even mention at this point in time. That's a world away and quite frankly, somewhat of a wild guess. Though generally, Kuo knows that this is a future trend as other players, as we point to below, are beginning to scratch the surface on this.
Patently Apple covered the smart contact lens concept back in a 2014 patent report titled "Google Patent Reveals a Smart Contact Lens with an Integrated Glucose Reader that Novartis has now licensed." The image below is from our report.
In 2019 Patently Apple also reported on Samsung winning a patent for Augment Reality Contact Lenses. The patent figure below is from that patent. So both Google and Samsung, at least on paper, are well ahead of Apple on this technology front.
Further to Kuo's rumor, he reportedly stated that several prototypes of Apple's mixed reality headset currently weigh 200–300 grams, but he said that the final weight will be reduced to 100–200 grams if Apple can solve technical problems, which would be significantly lighter than many existing VR devices. Due to a complex design, Kuo expects the headset to be priced around $1,000 in the United States, in line with the price of a "high-end iPhone."
In line with a previous rumor, Kuo said the headset will be equipped with Sony's Micro-OLED displays and several optical modules to provide a "see-through AR experience," adding that the headset can "also offer a VR experience."
Kuo said the headset will be "portable," with independent computing power and storage, but not truly "mobile" like an iPhone. "When the technology improves, we believe that the new helmet product can also enhance its mobility," he said.
Kuo believes Apple's headset has the potential to provide an "immersive experience that is significantly better than existing VR products." For more on Kuo's predictions, read th full MacRumors report.