Oh Apple, everyone always gets excited even when you make a mere sneeze. The company has now reportedly bought up Akonia Holographics. An outfit which specialized in holographic waveguides and display elements.
This is just the latest acquisition in a string of purchased hinting at VR and AR products on the horizon for the trillion-dollar company. Then again, when you are a trillion-dollar company it’s entirely possible that some smaller companies just get hoovered into your gigantic spending maw. Which means that you should keep in mind that Akonia might have been an impulse buy. I don’t think that’s the case, but the company doesn’t justify its purchases to us, so anything is possible.
In 2015 Apple bought AR company Metaio, which is probably where plenty of the secret sauce in the amazing ARKit API comes from. They’ve also bought Flyby Media,Indoor.io and VrVana. These are the ones most directly related to AR technology, but there’s also a string of machine learning and machine vision acquisitions too. You do the math.
What’s In the Box?
So what does Akonia actually do? As mentioned above, they work with the glass and display elements of AR headsets and related technologies. Think of the visor on the Microsoft Hololens or the two lenses in the Magic Leap headsets.
Akonia’s patented and proprietary technology is known as HoloMirror and promises thin, wide view, full-colour holographic lenses that are still transparent. That sounds too good to be true, but Apple obviously liked what they saw enough to buy the whole company.
While the technology Akonia has developed certainly sounds like the perfect addition for a company purportedly looking at making an AR headset, there’s more to it than just the product. Akonia holds a boatload of patents, which by themselves might be worth the entire asking price. Depending on what it is Apple wants to do with them.
Akonia has patents in holographic recording methods, multiplexing, optics and manufacturing methods. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a real treasure trove.
An Apple a Day Keeps the Press Away
Despite all these overt moves by Apple to collect all the things it needs to dominate the AR space, the company has yet to confirm if or when it will ever bring a headset to market. Remember, there were rumours for years about Apple making TVs and even cars.
So for now all we really know is that Apple just bought a lot of new AR and holographic technology, but for all we know it might end up in an iPhone. Or an iToilet.