Apple purchased a company called Akonia Holographics some time this year, according to Reuters. Akonia is a Colorado company that makes lenses for augmented reality (AR) glasses—terms and conditions of the deal aren’t known, but Apple confirmed the acquisition.
You may remember that Apple has been working on its own AR glasses/goggles with a project based at least partially in China. While that project was rumored to be on the chopping block, Apple clearly still has plans in this space.
Akonia was founded in 2012 as a holographic storage company by a group of holography scientists, according to Reuters. Holographic storage turned to AR lensed, however, and Akonia owns some 200 patents in that space.
Apple confirmed the purchase with its boilerplate “we buy companies from time to time, but it’s nunya” statement, but it’s unclear when the deal went down. Reuters found some folks in the industry who said Akonia went “very quiet” six months ago. It’s a good bet that’s roughly when Apple cut a check.
Apple and AR
Apple has made a big play with augmented reality, starting with ARKit in iOS 11. iOS 12 will continue that effort with new features and capabilities, but these are all baby steps. I’ve said on several podcasts that AR needs some kind of glasses to become more than just a niche technology, and that Apple wasn’t likely to leave that part of the equation to third parties. This purchase adds fuel to that fire.