Apple Reportedly Has 1000+ Engineers Working on AR in Israel: Analyst

Many are expecting that augmented reality (AR) technology has the potential to play a large role in Apple’s upcoming iPhone 8 and more, prompting investment firm UBS to increase its price expectation for the company.

In a note to investors, UBS Analyst Steven Milunovich, first reported on by Business Insider, expounded on the potential of augmented reality technology. Milunovich writes that Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly “broken the silence on future products with regards to AR,” and cites several quotes he has made about the technology as evidence that the company sees something big for AR in the future.

“According to some industry sources, the company may have over 1,000 engineers working on a project in Israel that could be related to AR,” reads the report. “UBS expects Apple could implement new AR products as early as in the next iPhone, expected later this year, which could include ‘moderate 3D mapping … and possibly an AR software development kit,’ the note says.”

In comments made earlier this month, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook called AR a “big idea,” and said he believes the technology could be for everyone— not unlike smartphones.

“Thanks to advanced cameras, consumers will hold their phones up with images superimposed onto the screen in cars, rooms, or walking down the street,” Milunovich wrote. “3D mapping through Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) will be key.”

It also seems as if Apple may be more interested in augmented reality technology than virtual reality.

“Milunovich notes that Apple appears more interested in AR rather than virtual reality (VR), because the former connects people whereas the latter is often an isolating experience involving a headset that renders the user blind to the real world,” reads the Business Insider report. “AR, by contrast, takes the existing environment and adds a new layer of information to it.”

Beyond the well-understood feature upgrades like OLED and wireless charging, the ‘iPhone 8’ will potentially be the first device that will have embedded AR (augmented reality) functionality, but how this translates into real-world app based functionality is difficult to articulate or capture without some feature demos, or early indications from WWDC 2017.