With Magic Leap and Microsoft having been teasing consumers for some time with the promise of AR Glasses, what could be a technological race is about to get underway, with Apple and Facebook working on similar rival devices. Now if you believe what Augmented Reality yes men are saying, this tech could one day replace your smartphone. It means that all of the companies currently involved see huge profits ahead as the perfect reason to join the race.

HoloLens AR Glasses from Microsoft are in competition with Facebook, Apple, and Magic Leap products
Azminsultana / Pixabay

Apple AR Glasses

Unlike Microsoft and Magic Leap, Apple is a relative newcomer to the field, having only set up a team to research the feasibility just over one year ago. However, it now seems as though that study revealed the possibility of a prosperous future for the technology. A future that Apple could ill afford to miss out on, considering it’s troubles with further developing its iPhone form factor.

As such, it is now putting more resources into the hands of those responsible for developing its consumer AR glasses. When will such an Apple device launch? Considering it has taken Microsoft years to get its device into the hands of developers, and it has shared no details with Apple. It’s likely that we will have to wait at least two years.

However, where Apple may have the upper-hand is with the miniaturization of consumers devices. Its engineers have long worked to tough guidelines and specs, ultimately delivering products like the wireless EarPods and others.

On the matter of AR, CEO, Tim Cook said at a Utah tech conference back in October 2016:

“Ar would take a little while” to get here, however, “we will wonder, when it does, how we lived without it. Kind of how we wonder how we lived without our phones today.”

Facebook

Of the four companies actively involved in trying to create a consumer AR product, Facebook could be the furthest away from launch. And in most part that opinion is based on what Mark Zuckerberg has said about it.

According to some publications, he has a vision for Augmented Reality, one that he thinks won’t be technically possible for a decade. Why so long? Even though, Facebook has its Oculus division working on both VR and AR; there remain significant engineering problems. Some of which the company is not close to surpassing, and that is why the figure of 10-years has been touted. Zuckerburg, wants the Facebook AR Glasses to be the most lightweight, compact, and the most powerful on the market.

Elaborating on this a little further he wrote in a Facebook post:

“The goal is to make VR and AR what we all want it to be: glasses small enough to take anywhere,” “we have some of the best scientists and engineers in the world are pushing the boundaries of virtual and augmented reality pushing the boundaries of virtual and augmented reality.”

Magic Leap

Said to be the company with AR Glasses that are the closest to a consumer release. Magic Leap’s Light Field device will cost $1000. However, the company’s CEO, Ronny Abovitz, has previously stated that the eyewear would be ready for release soon. The last time that happened was one year ago, and we’re still waiting.

Based in Florida U.S.A, the company has gained funding from the likes of Alibaba, and Alphabet to the tune of $1.4bn. This has helped the company to the head of the pack in this AR race. According to those who know, they suggest the glasses could hit shelves later this year, but no date is given.

As for what the company’s product can offer concerning software and experiences, there is a lack of information. This has led to critics suggesting, while the hardware may be close, Magic Leap may not be able to deliver a good AR experience. If the release rumors are true, it may not be that long until we find out, be patient.

Microsoft

Unlike the three other competitors, Microsoft, it would seem worked out the engineering problems some time ago. As its HoloLens was announced two years ago, and developers have had it for one year. In fact, they’ve been able to purchase during that time, and Microsoft still hasn’t given a release date to consumers.

What this seemingly lack of movement from the company is about, we don’t know. But, it could mean there have been issues developing a decent AR software experience, or a smaller version could replace this beta model headset. Right now, this is pure speculation; however, this limbo has given Apple, Facebook, and Magic Leap chance to catch up.

Conclussion

Along with VR, AR Glasses promise a future in which our hands become ultimately free. No longer will we have to sit or have our hands bound by technology, we will be free to enjoy gaming, work, and everyday computing wherever we desire. However, with AR, it seems as though, those involved are not only keeping it close to their chest. But, also finding developing what will be considered a true consumer experience challenging.

As such, we could see VR headsets like a 2nd generation PSVR hit the market before AR Glasses do.