The Apple Car Program Might Be Focused on Augmented Reality, Analyst Claims​​

Apple CEO Tim Cook has previously expressed a strong interest in the tech.

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Is Apple looking to bring iOS to your windshield? A new report by KGI Securities analyst and unofficial Apple Nostradamus Ming-Chi Kuo is claiming that Apple has likely switched the focus of its car development program to creating an in-car augmented reality system.

The report, which The Drive found via MacRumors, shows that Kuo thinks it "makes sense" that Apple is now focusing on an augmented reality, or AR, system, because it will provide an "innovative user experience" for an autonomous driving system.

"All of Apple’s past successes were related to human-machine interfaces, such as mouse for Mac, click wheel for iPod, and multi-touch for iPhone and iPad," the report reads, according to MacRumors. "Assuming Apple successfully develops AR, we predict the firm will enjoy the following competitive advantages: (1) redefining existing key products and leading competitors by three to five years. For instance, this could happen for iPhone, iPad and Mac; (2) eliminating obstacles of Apple Watch and Apple TV by offering an innovative user experience; and (3) entering new business fields, such as autonomous driving system."

Kuo believes 2017 will see a massive increase in the AR industry as it passes virtual reality as the market's primary focus. The analyst also predicts that the AR-VR market will be a $40-50 billion industry by 2018​, and jump to $150 billion in 2020—in large part because of increased interest in AR. 

Apple CEO Tim Cook has shown interest in AR multiple times recently, when speaking about how he believes AR should encourage human interaction instead of replacing it. Cook has previously said that he believes AR "can be huge" and that Apple continues "to invest a lot in [AR]."

Augmented reality could provide an entirely new layer of information for drivers while simultaneously increasing driver awareness, projecting crucial information about the vehicle—speed, engine data, directions, points of interest—directly into the driver's field of view. Alternately, it could be used for infotainment systems, either for the passengers in a conventional car or by all the occupants in a conventional vehicle. 

Carmakers have been toying with AR in various forms for years; many production vehicles today offer a head-up display, which is effectly a simple version of augmented reality, and companies from BMW to Land Rover have proposed more advanced versions of such systems. But so far, no company has brought a true AR experience to the driving realm. 

MacRumors reports Apple has its own team of engineers who are working on AR and VR development to see how the company could use the tech in the future. Whether or not the remains of Project Titan are involved with that effort...well, as with most Apple rumors, it looks as though only time will tell.