Like the layers of an onion, 2021 continues to peel back new hints of Apple's kinda-secretive augmented reality device development.
The latest layer gives us additional insight into the specific components that Apple intends to build into its AR product.
Citing sources close to the situation, Nikkei Asia reports that Apple has partnered with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to develop micro OLED displays, measuring under an inch, for its under-development augmented reality wearables. The displays will reportedly take a couple of years to reach mass production.
Compared to LCD or OLED displays, micro OLEDs are thinner, smaller, and more power-efficient, which make them ideal for use in future AR smartglasses that are intended to follow the VR/AR hybrid expected to arrive next year. For comparison, the fashion-friendly smartglasses from Vuzix use micro LEDs.
So far this year, we have learned that Apple's first VR/AR headset will likely include dual 8k displays, LiDAR, a plethora of cameras, eye tracking, and interchangeable headbands, with a likely landing date of first quarter 2022. We've also heard that Apple is currently in the second phase of its product development, which is supposedly intended to be a developer-centric device.
However, we know less about the slimmer, consumer-grade smartglasses that are to follow it. Previous reports have pegged them for arrival in 2023, but more recent reports say they are still years from being ready for primetime, which lines up with the micro OLED timeframe for mass production.
All this should be taken with a degree of skepticism because these devices aren't real until CEO Tim Cook and his team unveil them on stage. But, it's looking more and more likely that we'll see something in the next 12 months.