Apple took a major step in the development of Apple Glasses with the approval of a patent that was filed in April of last year. And according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, it is possible that the glasses can be released at some point later this year, which is earlier than a previously expected 2022 date.
Although the eyewear is never mentioned by any specific name in the abstract, the mythical glasses are described as an “[a]uthenticated device assisted user authentication [which] includes detecting, by an authenticated device, a proximate device, wherein a user of the authenticated device is currently authenticated to access a restricted-access function of the authenticated device.” In lay terms, the technology means that you’ll be able to unlock various Apple devices when you’re bespectacled and near them.
Six years ago, Apple’s then-company design chief Jony Ive and his team of 1,000 engineers began quietly working on a pair of glasses to take on Facebook’s Oculus Quest and Microsoft’s Hololens 2: the first was a virtual- and augmented reality set of specs called the N301, and the other was an AR-only pair codenamed N421.
There have been rumors of “Apple Glasses” going as far back as 2017, and stories of prototypes found their way into the wild. Still, there was never any official confirmation of their existence or an eventual production date. And although those projects never fully took off, it seems now that the lessons learned may not have completely gone to waste.
The abstract also mentions features that would theoretically prevent unintentional access, including voice command, eye gestures, and facial orientation (like turning your head a certain way). What’s not fully clear, though, is if the glasses are to function standalone or if they will be linked to a user’s phone through Siri, Apple’s voice assistant. But Apple is remaining tight-lipped on any further news of the patent, the future of the glasses themselves, or pricing for now.