Update: Monday, 11 p.m. ET: In a report from Bloomberg, eMagin CEO Jeffrey Lucas has contradicted what appeared to be investor information found in SEC filings that surfaced on Monday. Although Apple is listed among several other investors in the company in filing, Lucas told Bloomberg that Apple is not, in fact, an investor in the company. Offering further clarification, Lucas told the news site that eMagin "listed those companies in the filing because it had discussions with them at industry events."
After an interview with Bloomberg, eMagin executives stated that "the filing was misinterpreted." The initial report was carried by major financial news sites including Bloomberg, Techcrunch, and others, and briefly added a bit more fuel to the rumors surrounding Apple's work on AR smartglasses. Alas, in this case, what appeared to be a tantalizing new clue turned out to be a false alarm.
Original version of the story appears below:
Between patent awards, reports from "sources," and investments into component vendors, Apple is leaving less and less to the imagination with each passing day regarding to its unofficial plans to produce a consumer augmented reality head-mounted display.
The latest hint comes via another investment, this time with eMagin, Inc., a company that makes OLED microdisplays for augmented and virtual reality headsets.
According to SEC filings (discovered via CNET), Apple has joined fellow electronics companies LG Display, Valve Corporation, and Immerex, along with Stillwater Holdings, LLC, in purchasing $10 million in common stock from eMagin.
Boasting experience as a military contractor, eMagin now offers components for commercial and consumer product lines. On the consumer side, the company's top option is a 2K OLED display with 2048 x 2048 pixel resolution with 500 nits luminance.
This stock purchase is merely the latest financial maneuver by Apple that could eventually end up contributing to a consumer smartglasses product. Last May, Apple also funded Corning International, makers of Gorilla Glass and precision glass solutions for smartglasses, with $200 million. In December, the company invested $390 million into Finisar Corporation, a manufacturer involved in the production of the lasers used in the TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X.
The company's previous investments aren't necessarily smoking guns with regard to its seemingly-eventual AR headset, as the technology from Corning and Finisar can be found in existing products. However, considering the eMagin's product line, Apple's stock purchase is an investment that points to a very specific application within smartglasses. When viewed in that context, the likelihood is strong that the previous investments are aligned with the same goal in mind—some kind of wearable device.
With this latest piece of the company's wearable device puzzle coming into focus, it's becoming clear that Apple is probably setting the stage for a big smartglasses launch in the not too distant future.
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