Apple Employees Reportedly Met with AR Waveguide Tech Suppliers at CES 2019

Apple could have been shopping around this year’s Consumer Electronics Show for the next big thing in augmented reality.

According to a new report from AppleInsider, the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) saw a number of incognito Apple engineers and key personnel including employees of known subsidiaries, who met with AR waveguide suppliers the likes of Lumus, DigiLens, Vuzix, and WaveOptics.

Waveguide is one of the most widely used structures in see-through AR displays, and guide electromagnetic spectrum waves along a desired path, making them useful for glasses as companies can shape light coming from a source display and properly direct it to a user’s eyes. It’s a technique used by products like Magic Leap, but Apple has expressed interest in alternative technologies: in August 2018, it purchased Colorado-based Akonia Holographics that uses a simpler setup to display information through thinner headsets.

It’s currently not known what was discussed in Apple’s CES meetings this year. For all we know, the Cupertino company could have simply been looking to see what is available and nothing could have come from it. AppleInsider notes that this is not the first time that the company has held similar meetings, and that the company had actually similar meetings at CES 2018.

However, augmented reality is an area Apple CEO Tim Cook has been an outspoken proponent of recent. Rumours have previously pointed to Apple creating its own AR headset, although Cook has said that the technology to do this doesn’t yet “exist to do that in a quality way.”

However, rumours suggest Apple is currently laying the groundwork for a more ambitious set of AR glasses under the codename “T288.” The previous report stated Apple was looking to use an 8K display for each eye, far higher resolution than the 1,200-pixel-wide screens found on the HTC Vive. It would use 60GHz WiGig transmissions to communicate with a box housing a five-nanometer processor.