Kuo: Apple AR tech to debut in 1-2 years at minimum, might feature in autonomous car system

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2016
As Google, Microsoft and Facebook forge ahead with second- and third-generation augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) systems, consumers waiting for an Apple branded AR product will have to stand by for at least one or two more years, according to well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.


Drawing from Apple's "Visual-based inertial navigation" patent.


Kuo in a note to investors obtained by AppleInsider notes AR fits in well with Apple's aptitude for delivering innovative users experiences through unique human-machine interfaces. The company's current success is in large part thanks to iPhone, a device that introduced multitouch screens to the masses.

Just as technology introduced with iPod paved the way for iPhone, so might iPhone provide the necessary building blocks for a full-blown AR solution, Kuo says. The analyst fails to provide detail on a particular embodiment, but Android smartphones are already being used to power VR headsets. Apple might test the waters with a system akin to the hit iOS game Pok?mon Go, which taps into iPhone's camera and display to provide users with a seamless AR experience.

On a fundamental level, augmented reality can be described as a layer of digital information overlaid onto the physical world. Modern systems like Microsoft's HoloLens use a mix of cameras, sensors, transparent displays and specialized software a to immerse users in a digitally augmented world. These advanced systems have massive computational and power requirements and are therefore bulky, hardly ideal for a user experience company like Apple.

When the technology matures, however, Kuo sees Apple integrating AR to redefine key product lines, perhaps leapfrogging competitors by three to five years. For example, augmented user interfaces could drastically change the way users interact with Apple Watch and Apple TV, eliminating obstacles like small screens and clunky controls.

At the same time, Apple might leverage AR tech to break into other fields, Kuo says. One such area of interest is automotive technology, or more specifically autonomous driving systems.

Apple was widely rumored to be working on a self-driving car, dubbed "Project Titan," since March of 2015, but recent reports claim the company has abandoned those plans. Instead of a full-fledged car, Apple is scaling back its ambitious project to focus on underlying technology.

Of note, a report last week said Apple is testing an AR heads-up display with Siri integration as part of a pivot to self-driving software and supporting hardware.

It's no secret that Apple has an interested in AR. The topic has become a go-to talking point for CEO Tim Cook, who takes what seems to be every PR opportunity to trumpet a bullish stance on the burgeoning tech.

Cook first broached the subject during an earnings conference call in July, saying, "We are high on AR for the long run, we think there's great things for customers and a great commercial opportunity. So we're investing."

He reiterated the sentiment in August. And again in September before doubling down with two AR name drops (1, 2) last month.

Beyond Cook's devoutly declared interest in AR, evidence shows Apple is slowly building out an AR team of sorts through strategic hires and segment purchases. The company is buying up small AR/VR firms, including motion capture specialist Faceshift, machine learning and computer vision startup Perceptio, German AR firm Metaio and former Google collaborator Flyby Media.

Development of supporting tech is also being pursued in house, evidenced by a growing portfolio of AR/VR patents for transparent displays, iPhone-powered virtual reality systems, advanced computer vision tech and other related tech.

Still, Apple has not tipped its hand on concrete plans for the burgeoning AR industry. Cook's bluster, the hires, acquisitions, patents and rumor are all small parts of a larger, at this point nebulous, whole.

And so the rumor mill churns. With a dearth of meaningful insight into Apple's plans, it is unknown when and in what shape the company's AR product will materialize. Kuo's low-end estimate of one to two years is a relatively long incubation period for the fast-moving tech industry. Considering Apple is already "heavily invested" in the tech, a segment debut could result in an iPhone accessory, a self-driving car, or even an AR-infused contact lens. Or nothing at all.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    irelandireland Posts: 17,584member
    might feature in autonomous car system
    My dog could have predicted this.
    According to well-informed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple might launch a USB-C adapter with MagSafe functionality to return easy-on, easy-off functionality to a fully upgraded MacBook lineup
    You were saying Kuo? Excuse me, Mr. Well-Informed Analyst, if you please? Never happened did it? You were called out for that weren't you? No actually you weren't, so I'll take that responsibility now.

    I predict within 6 years Apple may put OLED displays atop most-every physical key on their MBP keyboard to allow for flexibility, clarity and power. The displays will have the same matte feel of the Touch Bar and will perfectly match ambient brightness and colour temperature of the environment allowing the keys to feel very natural and under regular typing the displays will go unnoticed. That is until shift, caps lock, alt or Calculator are activated. Or you open up your favourite music app—at which point any key can become a sound pad. Hey look, I'm an analyst!
    edited November 2016 fotoformatJanNLteejay2012mejsricmacpluspluspalominelolliver
  • Reply 2 of 20
    JanNLJanNL Posts: 259member
    Hope Kuo in his private life isn't talking so much...
  • Reply 3 of 20
    It's ridiculous that this guy gets so much air time from sites like AI.
    teejay2012tmaySolimacplusplus
  • Reply 4 of 20
    levilevi Posts: 344member
    It's ridiculous that this guy gets so much air time from sites like AI.
    It's a news and rumor site. Kuo more often than most releases accurate information regarding upcoming products. Not covering his notes would be ridiculous. 
    gatorguy
  • Reply 5 of 20
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,143member
    Does AI get paid to constantly post garbage from this clown, who can't seem to shut up when it comes to Apple and yet is wrong more often than not?
    ireland
  • Reply 6 of 20
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,595member
    slurpy said:
    Does AI get paid to constantly post garbage from this clown, who can't seem to shut up when it comes to Apple and yet is wrong more often than not?
    An intelligent discussion on what direction Apple might take on any given subject is always interesting and I guess 'an analyst's opinion creates a starting point for discussion. Or that's the idea anyway. Not sure why AI give them so much credibility. Personally I'd rather someone steeped in all things Apple would open up for discussion on a theory based on technology, the markets, marketing or whatever. I'd probably give someone like Daniel, or many people here more credence than an analyst. Having said that we all know that whatever anyone predicts, whoever they are, it is only that - a prediction. 
  • Reply 7 of 20
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,595member
    Like this Newsweek article:

    Is Apple Planning a Foldable iPhone 8?

    By Anthony CuthbertsonOn 11/2/16 at 7:28 AM 

    Next year marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, and Apple is widely thought to be planning something major for the double-digit birthday of its flagship product. And judging by a new patent awarded to Apple, the iPhone 8 may well confound even the most speculative of analysts.

    Published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Monday, November 1, Apple’s latest patent describes a foldable iPhone concept that uses carbon nanotubes to allow the smartphone to fold completely in half.

    Apple has been exploring the concept of foldable and bendable smartphones since 2013, with patents including a Flexible Electronic Device from 2015 that made use of flexible printed circuits, flexible batteries and flexible displays.

    Try Newsweek for only $1.25 per week

    apple iphone 8 foldable bendy screenA patent for a foldable smartphone was awarded to Apple on Tuesday, November 1, by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. USPTO 

    It is not the only smartphone manufacturer to be looking into such concepts, with chief rival Samsung filing dozens of patents relating to such technology. Whether or not any of them find their way into actual products remains to be seen, but the continued interest suggests the companies are serious about at least attempting to make the concept a reality.

    The relatively anti-climactic launch of the iPhone 7 appears to be proof that Apple is switching to a three-year iPhone cycle. The Cupertino company previously took two years between full-model changes, however the device unveiled in September was more of an incremental upgrade of its predecessor, the iPhone 6s.

    Industry analysts have pointed to a slowing market and limited advancements in smartphone functions as reasons for Apple’s switch.

    Apple reported its first decline in iPhone sales earlier this year, with a 16 percent drop in it Q2 2016 results. CEO Tim Cook cited the pace of smartphone upgrades as a reason for the slump, saying the iPhone 6s was unable to match the “accelerated” upgrade cycle the company achieved when it launched the iPhone 6 in 2014.

    edited November 2016
  • Reply 8 of 20
    It maybe that Apple's entry into the automotive world is first to partner with an existing manufacturer to give an AR windshield experience +/- self driving and than a full blown car to follow.  Like the Motorola ROKR before the iPhone.
    palomine
  • Reply 9 of 20
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,595member
    badmonk said:
    It maybe that Apple's entry into the automotive world is first to partner with an existing manufacturer to give an AR windshield experience +/- self driving and than a full blown car to follow.  Like the Motorola ROKR before the iPhone.
    My thinking, too. 
  • Reply 10 of 20
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,591member
    It's ridiculous that this guy gets so much air time from sites like AI.
    Indeed. 

    Wish someone one would pay me to be a professional guesser. 
    ireland
  • Reply 11 of 20
    AR in the car is a very stupid dream. People don't even read traffic signs, yet they will read tiny digital labels appearing in the heads-up display?
  • Reply 12 of 20
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,527member
    badmonk said:
    It maybe that Apple's entry into the automotive world is first to partner with an existing manufacturer to give an AR windshield experience +/- self driving and than a full blown car to follow.  Like the Motorola ROKR before the iPhone.
    Anything is possible, but there might be a reason that Apple hasn't taken the ROKR approach since then.  Their business model is not at all to license "enabling technology" for someone else's product.  So, seems highly unlikely.

    If Apple's car project did make a turn to "scale back / slow down / stop" a full car development & focus on underlying technology, I suspect that it was about getting X right before going to Y, as well as a re-evaluation of the market timing.  Full autonomy, the blue sky utopia vision that everyone seems to have, is many, many years away.  Apple needs to either time that appropriately with a full car (or service...as unlikely as that is), or change their specific car focus.

    There are many improvements which can be made to the "car", without having full autonomy (manufacturing processes, customizability, materials, space usage, UI, AR, etc).  The question is if Apple can bring a product to market that makes enough people go "aha - that is the car I want".  It will take billions to get into that market, so the payoff has to be high.
    palomineireland
  • Reply 13 of 20
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,527member
    AR in the car is a very stupid dream. People don't even read traffic signs, yet they will read tiny digital labels appearing in the heads-up display?
    Why would the labels, or other such information, be tiny?  A HUD (the old term for this, before AR in the windshield:) can display critical information to the driver, without them having to take their eyes off the road.  Highlighting pedestrians in the path, cyclists, etc.  Showing turning directions.  Lots of good possibilities - it isn't a stupid dream.
    palominelolliver
  • Reply 14 of 20
    brucemc said:
    AR in the car is a very stupid dream. People don't even read traffic signs, yet they will read tiny digital labels appearing in the heads-up display?
    Why would the labels, or other such information, be tiny?  A HUD (the old term for this, before AR in the windshield:) can display critical information to the driver, without them having to take their eyes off the road.  Highlighting pedestrians in the path, cyclists, etc.  Showing turning directions.  Lots of good possibilities - it isn't a stupid dream.
    Stupid also because of the amount of labels the driver has to deal with continuously. How many labels should such a HUD or windshield show? "Hide churches, show only brothels..." continuous switching... Gigantic amount of real time processing for a feature one would use no more than only a few times a day after a certain period.
    edited November 2016
  • Reply 15 of 20
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,588member
    Rayz2016 said:
    It's ridiculous that this guy gets so much air time from sites like AI.
    Indeed. 

    Wish someone one would pay me to be a professional guesser. 
    As the saying goes, "Don't hate the player..." ;)
  • Reply 16 of 20
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,591member
    ireland said:
    might feature in autonomous car system
    My dog could have predicted this.
    According to well-informed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple might launch a USB-C adapter with MagSafe functionality to return easy-on, easy-off functionality to a fully upgraded MacBook lineup
    You were saying Kuo? Excuse me, Mr. Well-Informed Analyst, if you please? Never happened did it? You were called out for that weren't you? No actually you weren't, so I'll take that responsibility now.

    I predict within 6 years Apple may put OLED displays atop most-every physical key on their MBP keyboard to allow for flexibility, clarity and power. The displays will have the same matte feel of the Touch Bar and will perfectly match ambient brightness and colour temperature of the environment allowing the keys to feel very natural and under regular typing the displays will go unnoticed. That is until shift, caps lock, alt or Calculator are activated. Or you open up your favourite music app—at which point any key can become a sound pad. Hey look, I'm an analyst!
    Nope.

    When you're completely wrong and then make up some mealy-mouthed crap like 'Oh, they were going to build an autonomous car, but they decided against it the day before they were due to go on sale' – then you'll be an analyst.
    lolliver
  • Reply 17 of 20
    The static version of that AR already exists: it is an application in your iPhone called Maps. Move that to the windshield and move the field of view to the street level then it wouldn't work because until it downloads all the labels from the servers you'd already past that point in a moving car. A topdown 3D view is the best you can get and that already exists.
    edited November 2016
  • Reply 18 of 20
    irelandireland Posts: 17,584member
    badmonk said:
    It maybe that Apple's entry into the automotive world is first to partner with an existing manufacturer to give an AR windshield experience +/- self driving and than a full blown car to follow.  Like the Motorola ROKR before the iPhone.
    Just try get a car company agree to that.
    edited November 2016 lolliver
  • Reply 19 of 20
    irelandireland Posts: 17,584member
    brucemc said:
    badmonk said:
    It maybe that Apple's entry into the automotive world is first to partner with an existing manufacturer to give an AR windshield experience +/- self driving and than a full blown car to follow.  Like the Motorola ROKR before the iPhone.
    Anything is possible, but there might be a reason that Apple hasn't taken the ROKR approach since then.  Their business model is not at all to license "enabling technology" for someone else's product.  So, seems highly unlikely.

    If Apple's car project did make a turn to "scale back / slow down / stop" a full car development & focus on underlying technology, I suspect that it was about getting X right before going to Y, as well as a re-evaluation of the market timing.  Full autonomy, the blue sky utopia vision that everyone seems to have, is many, many years away.  Apple needs to either time that appropriately with a full car (or service...as unlikely as that is), or change their specific car focus.

    There are many improvements which can be made to the "car", without having full autonomy (manufacturing processes, customizability, materials, space usage, UI, AR, etc).  The question is if Apple can bring a product to market that makes enough people go "aha - that is the car I want".  It will take billions to get into that market, so the payoff has to be high.
    Well said. That said, I think not including full autonomy as a feature which can be switched on in a car a high technology company is only beginning to work on at this juncture in time would be potential product suicide. And I think full autonomy is certainly here within many, many years. It'll be mainstream available in 10 years.
    edited November 2016
  • Reply 20 of 20
    you can't fly a fast jet without a HUD to give you essentila data relating to the aircraft and everything. Ok, now called AR.
    It puts essential data in your field of vision. At 400+ MPH you can't afford to look at the instruments. I'd hate to try to look at the Altimeter at Mach 2+ while on the tail of a bandit.
    I have a couple of speeding tickets because I wasn't paying close enough attention to the speedo.
    Having experienced a HUD in flight in a Military Jet (RAF Hunter) I can testify to its usefulness.
    I'd fully expect a HUB in a car to be just as useful (but with different data)


    lolliver
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