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The invention that will kill the iPhone

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Kuldeep Singh
Kuldeep is a Journalist and Writer at Revyuh.com. He writes about topics such as Apps, how to, tips and tricks, social network and covers the latest story from the ground. He stands in front of and behind the camera, creates creative product images and much more. Always ready to review new products. Email: kuldeep (at) revyuh (dot) com

An analyst claims Apple is working on mixed reality glasses by 2022 and contact lenses by the 2030s in a race to dominate the next digital age.

When the iPhone came out in 2007, few people imagined that half of the planet’s population would have a supercomputer in their pockets, almost essential for our lives. But that, something so obvious today, was as hard to believe then as it is now to believe that phones are destined to disappear in less than a decade. And possibly by Apple itself.

A renowned analyst at the apple company – who is usually right in all his predictions – says that Apple will release mixed reality glasses in mid-2022, followed by augmented reality glasses in 2025 and contact lenses that will replace everything by 2030.

The latter may be surprising, but there are already startups – like Mojo Vision – that are working on it. The path seems obvious, although there are still many years to come to this future.

Regarding Apple glasses, they are an open secret. Internally, the company has admitted that they are working on it.

The next big thing

Looking at it from the outside, it is obvious that they have been preparing for years. The mountain of evidence that demonstrates Apple’s interest in these new gadgets, which will replace the limited phone screen with an alternate reality where virtual objects and screens magically appear before our very eyes, is huge.

On the one hand, there is the discovery of hidden code in the operating system of Apple phones and tablets, a project called StarBoard. Then there is the strategic acquisition of numerous companies in the sector: projection technology developers Akonia Holographics, AR Vrvana device designers, computer vision company Regain, 3D sensor creators PrimeSense or the ‘startup’ dedicated to eye tracking SensoMotoric Instruments, among others.

Finally, there are Apple’s own devices, which have acquired the ability to interact with augmented reality in recent years. The latest are LiDAR cameras – sensors with laser point projectors capable of capturing the space around you in 3D to be able to position virtual objects in a realistic way. It’s as if the iPhone and iPad Pro are doing harakiri.

Tim Cook himself has admitted that augmented reality is “the next big thing” (“the next big thing”, as Steve Jobs used to say). According to Cook, it will be impossible to escape from it and it will be present in our lives in an unavoidable way.

The era of ‘invisible computing’

Apple knows that phones have become just another consumer appliance, just as difficult to differentiate as washing machines. It is a market that is stagnant and, in many cases, down due to saturation. So do Facebook, Microsoft, and Google. All of them are already fighting an undeclared war to replace the mobile phone with a new device.

However, it is not just for the desire to sell us something else. Objectively, augmented reality will be easier to use and much more useful than smartphones.

It represents the new era of what some call invisible computing: digital information systems that are always present in a way that requires no effort on the part of the user.

Personal voice assistants, for example, are part of this new era. They are not yet as sophisticated as the Enterprise’s onboard computer, but they are getting closer and closer. Their voices are almost indistinguishable from human voices, and soon the same will happen to their intelligence level.

But they are limited by current visual devices, with limited resolution and sizes. The human being, after all, is an animal that depends on vision more than any other sense, something that is reflected in the fact that more than 50% of the neocortex is dedicated to visual processing.

Augmented reality completely breaks the limitations of current screens. In its most advanced current version – Microsoft Hololens glasses – the angle of view is lower than that of the human eye, limited by the capabilities of current projectors and optics. Whereas the human eye has a depth perception angle of view of 114 degrees, Hololens 2 only has 70 degrees. This results in an experience that is not totally immersive because, the moment objects exceed the field of vision, the illusion of their presence in space is broken.

We know that Apple is having trouble expanding the field of view while maintaining a discreet size, according to rumors. Companies like Leap Motion have devices with sufficient resolution (1,600 x 1,440 pixels at 120 frames per second) and a viewing angle of 100 degrees. And although they are quite hulking, Apple tried to buy them back in the day (the founder of Leap Motion gave them pumpkins twice because he can’t stand the Cupertino people, according to the gossips in Silicon Valley told me).

In fact, problems with the size of the optics and projectors are the reason that, according to Kuo, the first glasses from Cook and company will be mixed reality. Instead of using projection technology on transparent lenses, the glasses will use processors and cameras that will mix real images with digital images to project them on high-resolution, high-refresh-rate retina displays. This device, Kuo says, will cover the field of view needed to make everything look real, weigh 200 to 300 grams, and cost about $ 1,000.

They will be a couple of years behind transparent augmented reality glasses. These will be the ones that would allow you to add a digital layer to your physical world in a natural way, adding a virtual layer will allow you to work, communicate or play anywhere in reality in front of your eyes.

Afterwards, Kuo says that it would be at least a decade before the next step, the holy grail of augmented reality: contact lenses capable of covering the entire field of vision with a layer of pixels that will display images indistinguishable from reality. For that to happen, there are still many advances in electronic miniaturization.

What remains to be seen are the consequences of using machines capable of transforming physical reality into an alternate dimension. There are dystopian visions like this from the film director and user experience designer Keiichi Matsuda.

His short ‘Hyper-Reality’ shows a chilling future where humans live in a reality governed by digital experience , controlled by corporations like Facebook and exposed to abuse by ‘hackers’.

But, as Matsuda himself told me a few years ago, it is an extreme and pessimistic view. According to him, augmented reality is an extremely powerful tool if you use it for good. Matsuda believes that although people view virtual reality and augmented reality as ‘futuristic’ technologies, they actually have the potential to be the simplest and most natural ways to use to interact with digital systems. The power of an augmented reality system is to an iPhone what an iPhone is to an analog phone taped to a Polaroid camera and a volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

The reason is also very simple: human beings have evolved over millions of years to use their hands, eyes, hearing and all their senses directly, interacting with objects in the real world. As Matsuda says, “our hands with the original interface with the world.”

The promise of augmented reality is to return us to the nature of the human being, eliminating the personal barrier that the mobile screen has become, but maintaining access to the technology that allows us to do things that a little more than a decade ago was unimaginable. It remains to be seen if Apple, Microsoft, or Facebook are the companies that deliver on that promise – and if we can avoid the ‘Hyper-Reality’ dystopia along the way.

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