Akonia Holographics, the startup that Apple bought, advertises the “world’s first commercially available volume holographic reflective and waveguide optics for transparent display elements in smart glasses.”
The displays that it makes are said to use the company’s HoloMirror technology for “ultra-clear, full-color performance” to enable the “thinnest, lightest head worn displays in the world.”
Apple confirmed the purchase to Reuters with the statement that it uses when it makes an acquisition: “Apple buys smaller companies from time to time, and we generally don’t discuss our purpose or plans.”
Akonia Holographics was founded in 2012 by holography scientists who focused on holographic data storage before moving on to develop displays for augmented reality glasses, according to the company’s website.
It’s not clear when exactly Apple purchased Akonia Holographics, but sources that spoke to Reuters suggested the company had become “very quiet” over the last six months, indicating the acquisition may have been made in the first half of 2018.
Multiple rumors have suggested Apple has a research unit of hundreds of employees working on AR and VR and exploring the ways the emerging technologies could be used in future Apple products.
Apple is said to be exploring several prototypes, including a powerful AR/VR headset with an 8K display for each eye and a set of augmented reality smart glasses with a dedicated display, a built-in processor, and an “rOS” or reality operating system. Rumors indicate that Apple’s first AR or VR product could come out in 2019 or 2020.
Apple’s purchase of Akonia Holographics is its second recent AR/VR related acquisition. In November 2017, Apple purchased Vrvana, a company that developed a mixed reality headset called Totem.