Apple has been working on a product similar to Google Glass for more than half a decade but the project was sidelined by the popularity of the iPod and iPhone, one of the company’s former executives has claimed.Tony Fadell, ex-head of Apple’s iPod division, said the concept was “the craziest thing” he worked on at the company and claimed to have made “a bunch” of prototypes well before Google took its smartglasses to market earlier this year.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
The comments come amid criticism in some quarters that the company has failed to innovate since the death of founder Steve Jobs in 2011, with rivals recently launching the smartwatch and smartglasses.
In an interview with the business magazine Fast Company, Mr Fadell confirmed that Apple had been working on an augmented reality headset that was “something like Google Glass” from early 2006.
The idea was to create a visor with a built-in screen which created a new entertainment experience which would feel “like you’re sitting in a theater”, Mr Fadell is reported to have said.
However the project was abandoned as the success of the iPhone, launched in 2007, and the demand for new versions of the iPod became the company’s focus.
“We had such success with the things we were already doing that we didn’t have time to do anything else,” Mr Fadell said.
His comments appear to confirm reports last year that suggested so-called iGlasses had long been in development at Apple.
A patent in the name of Anthony Fadell and John Fang protecting technology which would project “a source image in a head-mounted display apparatus for a user” was filed in October 13 2006 with the backing of Apple Inc.
The description explained how an image would be beamed onto a display in front of the user’s eyes, thereby creating “an enhanced viewing experience”. It was eventually approved by the US Patent Office in March 2012.
The patent and Mr Fadell’s comments suggest Apple’s version of smartglasses would focus on creating the next generation in entertainment. This would be a marked difference to Google Glass, which appears to be targeting a business market with functions like receiving emails and taking photos.
Apple was unavailable for comment.