Apple and Facebook have joined the race to develop augmented reality (AR) glasses that could eventually usurp smartphones.

Apple put together a team to examine the feasibility of a AR eyewear more than a year ago.

Now, the technology brand is understood to be devoting more resources to augmented-reality products.

Meanwhile, Facebook has been investigating ways to develop what boss Mark Zuckerberg described as “glasses small enough to take anywhere”.

Magic Leap of invention

However, both companies are likely to be beaten by start-up Magic Leap, which has raised $1.4bn (£1.13bn) from investors, including Alibaba, and is set to launch its AR eyewear – Lightfield – later this year.

Although Lightfield eyewear is bigger than most regular spectacles, it is said to be smaller than Microsoft’s HoloLens – another competitor – and will probably cost in excess of £800.

Microsoft is furthest along in bringing AR to market. It unveiled HoloLens two years ago and the device has been available for developers to buy for a year.

A consumer release date has not yet been set, making it possible that Apple or Facebook will still catch up.