Apple is often touted as a great innovator, a business that regularly invents the next big thing that we will all need in our lives. But in reality, Apple has almost never invented anything.
Nearly all of the big technologies that Apple gets credit for, from desktop GUIs to music players to smartphones, were done first by some other company. But that doesn’t mean that Apple isn’t one of the single biggest drivers in technological change.
That’s because Apple does have a very powerful and singular skill set that they have brought to bear on technology again and again. They take that idea or technology that someone else has created and perfect it, making it a technology that everyone has to have.
And the next big target for Apple is augmented reality. In a recent interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook talked about the importance that the company is placing on augmented reality in the near future. In many ways, it is an ambition that perfectly aligns with Apple’s vision and capabilities.
Like many emerging technologies, augmented reality has been around for years now, and in some industries, like field service, it has become an important tool for understanding and repairing devices, and this importance has only grown with the rise of the Internet of Things.
In the realm of general consumer use, however, augmented reality has yet to gain much traction. In fact, the most recognizable example of it for most people is the popular game Pokemon Go. But while catching pokemons in real-world locales can be a lot of fun, it isn’t exactly a ground-breaking use case.
What is most interesting about Apple’s focus on augmented reality is that they are working on a new set of enhanced glasses. This sets up as a classic Apple innovation play.
Think about it. The first iteration of smart glasses providing an augmented-reality view of the world was Google Glass. While interesting, it had a number of design issues and failed to really catch on.
One has to think that if Apple decides to create a kind of iGlasses, design and usability will be high on their list as keys to the product. And a new kind of smart glasses that provides an augmented, Terminator-like view of the world could bring about a whole new way of interacting with our environments.
I’m looking forward to seeing if Apple comes through on this promise. History suggests they will.
After all, if necessity is the mother of invention, then Apple is probably the father of taking inventions and making them great.