In an interview with ABC news last September, Apple Inc. (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook made it clear that the company favored Augmented Reality (AR) over Virtual Reality (VR). But he did not divulge the company's plans for the technology. However, a recent post on Facebook, Inc.'s (FB) platform by tech evangelist Robert Scoble states that Apple is partnering with optical company Carl Zeiss to make AR glasses. (See also: Is Apple Making an Augmented Reality Product?)

In his post, Scoble writes that a Zeiss employee confirmed rumors that both companies "are working on a light pair of augmented reality/mixed reality glasses that may be announced this year." A diktat from Tim Cook was the reason that Carl Zeiss, despite setting up a booth in the AR section of the show, did not have AR products in its display, Scoble writes.

Carl Zeiss had already demonstrated its design chops last year at CES by demonstrating a prototype for smart glasses that was a distinct improvement over Alphabet Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary Google's Google Glass. From the endgadget report, "The company's sole purpose is to develop these curved lenses and then partner with a technology company that can develop the computing hardware and software."

A report in Bloomberg last year suggested that Apple was considering entering the AR arena with digital glasses that connect wirelessly to the iPhone. The glasses would display information, such as text and images, in the wearer's line of vision. At the time of the report, Apple was hunting for potential partners to manufacture its product. (See also: Can Apple Thrive Where Google Glass Failed?)

The market for AR is expected to be worth $90 billion by 2020, according to estimates by VR/AR advisor Digi-Capital. In a report at the beginning of last year, the firm said the market for consumer AR wearables, such as smart glasses, had been pushed back by a year and that the first wave of AR products for consumers are expected to hit the market this year. Meanwhile, enterprise users have had a glimpse of AR technology thanks to several models of smart glasses targeted at the market. 

If Apple does enter the market later this year, it will not be the company's first AR product. Last year's hit game Pokemon Go used the iPhone's camera and GPS as part of its AR experience. But Apple's own AR product will likely be three to five years ahead of competition, research analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated in a note last year. According to him, the iPhone will be a building block for Apple's AR solution in a manner similar to the iPod’s evolution into a smartphone. Apple has already made a number of acquisitions of startups in the AR space and filed patents relating to the technology in recent times. (See also: How Pokemon Go Uses Augmented Reality.)

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