The effort, which involves teams from several acquired startups, reflects Apple’s near-term desire to put augmented reality technology into consumers' hands even as it develops special glasses that could eventually change the way people perceive their surroundings.
Apple reportedly wants users to be able to point their iPhone at a real world object and have it be recognized. It may also be able recognize and manipulate people's faces. Teams from AR companies Metaio and Flyby Media, both acquired by Apple, are now working in Apple's camera group. Once the AR features are built into the iPhone camera app, Apple plans to release an SDK for app developers, similar to what it did for Touch ID.
Business Insider sources also confirmed previous reports that Apple is working on digital glasses that would also offer augmented reality features. The glasses aren't expected until 2018 at the earliest. John Border, former chief engineer at Osterhout Design Group, joined Apple in September. Border is a senior optics manufacturing exploration engineer and likely worked on ODG's R-7 Smartglasses that use "3D stereoscopic ultra-transparent see-thru HD displays" to superimpose computer graphics into the real world.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has said the company is 'high on AR for the long run' so we may see some exciting new products based around this technology in the near future. Please follow iClarified on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or RSS for updates.