Having taken over the devices on our desks and in our pockets, Apple might be moving onto an even bigger screen: the car windshield.
The world's most valuable company is "very likely" working on a 27- to 50-inch head-up display, a technology most famously used by jet pilots, that could project vivid icons and information for drivers while on the road, a tech analyst with Global Equities Research said last week.
The curved-glass screen could also be wired with sensors and "may be completely gesture-controlled," a stealth project that analyst Trip Chowdhry said could be Apple's "next generation" device, after gadgets such as the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.
Apple declined to comment, and Chowdhry said a launch of the head-up display, or HUD, "does not seem imminent." The glass and display technology, he said, could be used in a totally different type of device, such as a TV, adding that the tech giant seems to be in the "early stage of something that could be a lot bigger."
Rumors about Apple's secret innovations have become a regular pastime for the many tea-leaf readers of Silicon Valley, and Chowdhry, who seems to be the only analyst so far to suggest Apple is working on a HUD, has been wrong before.
But if Apple's head-up display really is in the works, it could mark a huge leap for the $660 billion gorilla into an industry already packed with big-money carmakers and tech firms, and further embolden the idea that Apple is looking to stake new territory on the world's roads.
Apple's hiring of auto-industry specialists and sightings in California of Apple-leased camera-mounted vans have fueled rumors that the software-hardware company is looking to build its own kind of car. In February, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal said that hundreds of Apple employees were working on a self-driving minivan.
But Apple has remained tight-lipped about cars, which Apple executive Jeff Williams in May called the "ultimate mobile device." The Cupertino, Calif., firm's sole public foray into the four-wheeled world has been its CarPlay infotainment system, which lets people plug in their iPhones and use iOS-style menus to check maps and music libraries on their car's dashboard display.
Head-up displays have quickly become one of the modern tech industry's fastest-growing points of excitement. This year, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, tech firms and auto giants said head-up displays will be key upgrades one day.