Apple has quietly acquired Akonia Holographics, a startup that makes super-thin and transparent lenses for augmented reality (AR) smart glasses.
The news is a sign that Apple might soon move deeper into the AR market, a technology which can superimpose digital information and images on the real world.
Other tech firms offering AR glasses to date include Microsoft's Hololens and Magic Leap's Magic Leap One which feature darker tinted lenses, often only designed for indoor-use by developers at a high price point.
Founded in 2012 and based in Colorado, US startup Akonia said its technology allows for "thin, transparent smart glass lenses that display vibrant, full-colour, wide field-of-view images". According to the firm's website, it had raised $11.6m (£8.9m) in seed funding in 2011 from undisclosed investors.
Apple currently offers AR experiences through the iPhone and iPad, visible on mobile screens via apps and mobile games that use the phone's camera such as Pokemon Go and Ikea's store app.
Last year, reports said Apple had begun development on AR glasses that could ship as soon as 2020.