When you're wearing AR glasses everything you see is augmented. Same thing when you watch Apple roll out new products: you search for hints of coming XR visors, glasses, anything to help you read the tea leaves on when the new devices are coming.
Oscar Falmer put together a thread highlighting all the ways in which LiDAR capabilities were highlighted during the events (click through to see the thread):
But LiDAR isn't new. It's capabilities are getting better. Its use on the new iPads will be...astonishing. The ability to blend the physical and digital through a combination of cameras, machine learning and LiDAR sensors is profound.
Soon, you'll be able to direct Star Wars in your living room. Just throw in a Meta Human and you're off to the races. (I'm sure Apple would have preferred to demo some hot new thing from Epic during the launch presentations!)
I was half-hoping that the new Air Tags would have some utility beyond being a sexier/more widely deployed "find my phone" button. Honestly, I was working on Bluetooth Beacons 7 years ago and these are ....beacons. Albeit with ultra-wideband.
So, What Did Apple Show?
There was no direct hint of coming optical devices during Apple's launch events.
What they did do was unveil the next phase of a grand new era for Apple.
Remember when Apple moved away from skeumorphic design? Your iPhone notepad stopped looking like note paper. We stopped seeing imitation leather and buttons with glow.
What Apple showed yesterday validates that their internal processes and team structure has created a deep integration of the 'redesign' process. The user-facing interfaces are not bolted on top of the product/industrial design which is not a wrapper around chips and systems.
And so when we think about the next generation of devices it tells us that the bar is insanely high. Opticals will need to:
- Fit seamlessly into this tightly designed, bright, and light new reality
- Be tightly coupled to the other devices in the Apple family. No device stands alone. They all cross-integrate. If you can't get, say, Apple Arcade to work as a subscription offering on "visors" out of the gate, it won't happen at all.
- Be environmentally sound.
- Be privacy-focused.
- Push the absolute limits of silicon.
Honestly? I want all of these devices. They would super-power my work which is, by default, an Apple world (I can't easily program apps on a PC).
But, there's also something that feels a bit sterile about where they're taking the brand. I believe it's intentional. As they said about the new iMacs, they want the computer to 'disappear' so you can focus on the content.
That's a good description of what glasses will eventually do. The computer part of our computers will disappear. And in Apple's world, it will let us see a tightly curated world which is all smooth surfaces and slightly saturated colours.
In the augmented world that Apple is taking us to, we'll all be walking across a manicured lawn that gives a hint of wild nature, but which is enclosed in the courtyard of the Apple Loop.