Market Reality: Apple AR Headset Event in the Works, Snap & Niantic Have Their Own Smartglasses Plans

The race for the future of AR wearables gained steam this week with several pivotal developments.

First, Apple, the subject of numerous reports and rumors regarding its purported AR headset, is reportedly eyeing an in-person unveiling of the device for later this year, rather than introduce it at its upcoming virtual Worldwide Developers Conference, which would usually be as good a time as any to make a big AR hardware announcement.

Second, Snap also has its Partner Summit scheduled for May, and now that virtual stage is expected to include the reveal of its own smartglasses.

Third, Niantic made waves of its own with a teaser of what appears to be its own smartglasses as well as the kind of immersive experiences its AR platform can conjure over 5G networks.

Fourth, Microsoft is moving to the next stage of its project to adapt HoloLens for use by US Army soldiers, which actually will eventually benefit private sector customers as well.

Meanwhile, Google, Niantic’s former parent company, introduced new AR features for Google Maps, which could end up becoming the most useful app for forthcoming smartglasses.

Apple May Unveil AR Headset Later This Year with in-Person Event

The Apple rumor drumbeat is getting louder: a wearable augmented reality device is almost certainly coming, very soon.

At least that’s the lay of the land based on yet another breadcrumb dropped on Wednesday regarding Apple’s upcoming plans for a “mixed reality” device in the coming months.

Keep reading to learn more about Apple’s reported plans for introducing its first new major computing product since the Apple Watch and read further about its plans for a virtual WWDC

REALITY BITES: Healthcare AR company Augmedics has closed a $36 million Series C funding round, bringing its total funding to $63 million. The financing will enable the company to expand its reach in the US and other markets, develop new AR products, and pursue certification to sell in Europe.

Snap Reportedly Readying Spectacles with AR Displays

The first two generations of Spectacles functioned merely as face-mounted cameras, but Spectacles 3 came with dual cameras capable of recording depth for adding 3D effects from Snapchat Lenses.

Now, after flirting with the prospect of smartglasses, Snap appears to be ready to evolve Spectacles into legitimate smartglasses with mounted displays for projecting AR content.

Continue reading to find out when the AR version of Spectacles will reportedly debut and what we can expect from it

REALITY BITES: The 8th Wall Web platform has found its way into numerous advertising campaigns, but now it is finding its way further down the e-commerce chain to the point of purchase. Fashion brand Carolina Herrera has leveraged the volumetric video capabilities of the platform to add AR previews of models wearing dresses and sweaters available on its online store.

Is Niantic Getting into the Smartglasses Race?

Mobile augmented reality gaming pioneer Niantic is chomping at the bit to get games like Pokémon GO out of smartphones and onto smartglasses, and it appears to be taking matters into its own hands.

After previewing a proof of concept of Pokémon GO running on HoloLens 2 earlier this month, Niantic founder and CEO John Hanke on Monday shared a closely-cropped photo of a pair of smartglasses emblazoned the company’s wordmark on the temple.

Read further to learn more about Niantic’s smartglasses tease and continue reading for details on a mobile AR demo Niantic is testing with 5G partners that shows how AR games could be played on future Niantic smartglasses

REALITY BITES: While its marketing team touts its 5G network and the future AR innovations it will facilitate, AT&T’s public policy team is coming out against investment in broadband infrastructure for underserved communities. Joan Marsh, executive vice president of federal regulatory relations, makes a case for revisiting the definition of broadband speeds for underserved communities to avoid overbuilding. Perhaps more baffling is her position against deploying fiber to rural areas, citing uneven demand. However, public comments to the position paper clearly exhibit a demand for gigabit fiber. Maybe it’s because they are looking forward to all those AR experiences the company has been teasing?

Army Awards $22 Billion Contract to Microsoft for Battle-Ready HoloLens Variant

After years of testing and modifications, the US Army is moving forward with its customized version of HoloLens 2 from Microsoft.

In separate announcements published on Wednesday, the US Army authorized moving from rapid prototyping to production and rapid field testing.

Keep reading for more details on the terms of the deal and how the military-grade HoloLens may end up benefiting those of us in the private sector

REALITY BITES: The national processor shortage has reportedly hit leading chipmaker Qualcomm, which is seeing increased demand from Android smartphone makers. The company is having difficulty sourcing subcomponents of its processors, with an interruption of production due to the winter storms in Texas among the contributing factors. Considering that Qualcomm has positioned its XR1 and XR2 chips for smartglasses and AR/VR headsets, these shortages could have an impact on the go-to-market plans for AR wearables makers.

Google Adds Indoor AR Navigation to Google Maps Live View

The AR walking navigation feature in Google Maps, which is arguably one of the most useful mobile augmented reality to available to consumers, is about to get even more indispensable for travelers.

On Tuesday, Google announced a number of new features coming to Google Maps, chief among them an expansion of Live View to indoor navigation of airports, malls, and transit stations.

Continue reading for more about the new indoor features and when you can expect to be able to use them in your travels

Every Friday, Next Reality reviews the latest headlines from the financial side of augmented and mixed reality. This weekly Market Reality column covers funding announcements, mergers and acquisitions, market analysis, and the like. Check out previous editions of Market Reality for more news you may have missed.

Cover image via Snap/YouTube