KEY POINTS

  • A new report provides details about Apple's progress on AR headsets
  • The company is now testing its new semi-transparent lenses for mass production
  • The AR headsets are still at least one to two years away from launch

Apple and manufacturing partner Foxconn have already made significant progress in their efforts to create the tech giant's augmented reality glasses, a new report has revealed.

According to a report from The Information, Apple has been working with manufacturing partner Foxconn in the production of semi-transparent lenses to be used on its augmented reality glasses that are slated for release a few years from now, 9To5Mac reported.

The outlet learned from “a person familiar with the matter” that the lenses have already passed the prototyping stage and are now in the engineering validation test or EVT. This indicates that Apple is satisfied with the lens design.

The source said that the “lenses are slightly larger than those typically found in eyeglasses.” This indicates that Apple's rumored AR glasses will be sleeker than current head-mounted displays and might even be worn for everyday use like traditional eyeglasses.

Apple smartglasses modular Apple's modular smartglasses Photo: Apple/USPTO

The lens have entered EVT about two months ago, the source said. During the EVT period, Apple is expected to test the lenses' suitability for mass production by producing “thousands of units.”

The insider added that Apple's AR lenses are “challenging” to make. This is because they are made of multiple layers of different synthetic material, each of them susceptible to manufacturing issues such as bubbles, scratches and other such marks. Each layer, the source added, is “extremely thin.”

To prevent or at least reduce the likelihood of manufacturing defects, the lenses will be manufactured in places called “clean rooms” – zones designed to keep the raw material from being contaminated with dust. The insider added that the AR lenses, and possibly the headset, are being developed at the Chengdu Foxconn factory in southwestern China, where a majority of iPad production is done.

The Information noted that Apple has been working with Foxconn to create the AR lenses since 2018.

9To5Mac also noted that Cupertino acquired Akonia Holographics during this time. The acquisition is timely, as the latter company is known for specializing in technology that can project images on special lenses.

The report noted that according to the source, the lenses are “at least one to two years away from mass production.” This perfectly lines up with previous reports indicating that Apple's AR headset and AR glasses are at least two years away from being launched.