Apple’s Tim Cook says augmented reality, not VR, is the future

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Apple’s famous veil of secrecy was pierced on Friday during a rare interview with the company’s CEO, Tim Cook. The topic: augmented reality.

The comments from Cook were delivered during an interview session at Sen. Orrin Hatch’s Utah Tech Tour in Salt Lake City.

Although Cook didn’t reveal any specifics about upcoming Apple products, it’s now even more obvious what the company is working to bring to the masses, and it’s probably not, as some rumors have indicated, virtual reality.

“AR I think is going to become really big,” said Cook. “VR, I think, is not gonna be that big, compared to AR … How long will it take? AR gonna take a little while, because there’s some really hard technology challenges there. But it will happen. It will happen in a big way. And we will wonder, when it does [happen], how we lived without it. Kind of how we wonder how we lived without our [smartphones] today.”

The comments were in response to a question from an audience member who asked what Cook thought about the near-term future of AR and VR. And based on how Cook laid out his view of AR and VR, it appears that he is looking toward a mobile-centric version of AR.

 

“VR, I think, is not gonna be that big, compared to AR.”

“In terms of it becoming a mass adoption, say everyone [in this room] would have an AR experience,” said Cook, outlining a future scenario. “The reality is it has to be something that everybody in [this room] views as an acceptable thing. But few people in here are going to think it’s acceptable to be tethered to a computer walking in here and sitting down. And few people in here are going to view that it’s acceptable to be enclosed in something [makes a gesture around his head], because we’re all social people at heart.”

Although Cook indicates that it will be some time before we see an AR product from Apple, patents from as far back as 2013 hint at the company’s early interest in the technology. And just last year, Apple acquired AR software company Metaio. Given those facts, it’s a good bet that Apple will attempt to be one of the first companies to push AR into the mainstream in the near future, alongside products like Microsoft’s (tethered) Hololens.

“I do think that a significant part of the population, of developed countries, and eventually all countries, will have AR experiences everyday,” said Cook. “It will be almost like eating three meals a day, because it will become that much a part of you.”

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