Tim Cook has long expressed his interest in augmented reality, often touting the technology’s capabilities and even suggesting it has more real-world potential than virtual reality. Now, a report from Business Insider offers up some details as to how Apple plans to integrate augmented reality into the iPhone…

Apple is reportedly working to integrate augmented reality into the iPhone’s camera app using technology it acquired from several different startups, including Metaio. We noted earlier this year that Apple had already started assembling a secret research team for AR and VR tech.

In adding AR to the iPhone’s camera app, Apple hopes that customers will be able to point their device at a real-world object and have the camera recognize it.

Additionally, Apple would like to integrate more advanced face recognition software into the iPhone with the help of augmented reality, allowing the camera app to recognize and manipulate people’s faces.

By adding AR technology into the iPhone’s camera software, Apple wants consumers to be able to point the phone at a real-world object and have it be recognized, according to the person familiar with the matter. That would require creating or licensing a database of 3D objects.

Further down the road, Apple hopes to open release an SDK for app developers to integrate augmented reality, which would further expand the technology into the hands of more users.

All of this is said to be in addition to Apple’s end goal of releasing a pair of digital smart glasses that integrate with the iPhone. Essentially, Apple hopes that bringing artificial reality to the iPhone will give users a glimpse of what the technology is capable of, pushing them towards the smart glasses.

Today’s report partially agrees with a wide array of predictions from Robert Scoble, who has claimed that the iPhone 8 will be a “clear piece of glass” with “mixed reality”

Apple’s efforts to integrate artificial intelligence into the camera app sound similar to Google’s Tango initiative, which allows devices to use real-time mapping technology paired with a complex setup of cameras and sensors to map the 3D space around users in real time. Tango graduated from “Project Tango” to simply “Tango” earlier this year.

At this point, it’s unclear when Apple plans to introduce AR to the iPhone’s camera app, but it will likely coincide with a major iPhone upgrade. What do you think about Apple’s augmented reality aspirations? Let us know in the comments.

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