Apple may be developing augmented reality technology for its next iPhone iteration in Israel, according to a research note from financial services company UBS seen by Business Insider.
“According to some industry sources, the company may have over 1,000 engineers working on a project in Israel that could be related to AR,” the note reportedly said.
Augmented reality (AR) adds information to users’ environment, allowing them to interact with their surroundings and the people around them (think Pokemon Go). Virtual reality, meanwhile, disconnects users from their surroundings, often with the use of a headset.
“With AR you can, not be engrossed in something, but have it be a part of your world, of your conversation. That has resonance,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told The Independent last month. “I regard it as a big idea like the smartphone. The smartphone is for everyone,” Cook said.
Apple has acquired several Israeli companies that could be involved in the project. The company bought Israeli tech firm PrimeSense, which develops 3D gesture technology, for $350 million in 2013, and the photo-tech firm LinX in 2015. Most recently, Apple acquired Realface, a startup whose facial recognition technology can be used to authenticate users.
Previous reports claimed Israeli researchers were developing technology for the “iPhone 8” at Apple’s offices in Herzliya. Cook has said it is the company’s second-largest research and development office in the world.