Apple Builds Secret Virtual Reality Team, But for What?

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Apple has built what was a secret team to develop virtual reality technology, according to unnamed sources cited by The Financial Times of London. The team is comprised of hundreds of employees from a series of acquisitions in the virtual reality (VR) and augmented-reality (AR) space, as well as hires from outside of Apple.

Virtual Reality Googles with an Apple Logo

The newspaper said Apple's most recent acquisition is Flyby Media, a company with technology that allows devices to "see" the world around them. Other acquisitions include PrimeSense, a motion sensing company, and Apple has been poaching employees from camera maker Lytro, Microsoft's Hololens project, and others. Apple also hired Doug Bowman, a VR expert from the academic world.

Like the Project Titan electric car project, Apple has apparently committed significant resources in hiring such a large team, especially for a project still in the early days. The question is what does Apple want to do with VR, and what kind of product(s) does it envision?

Some kind of headset is the first thing that leaps to mind, but Chief Design Officer Jony Ive said in an interview with The New Yorker that the face "was the wrong place" for a computer. That interview was Apple Watch-centric, and it's possible that Sir Jony was doing a bit of humble misdirection, but...

CEO Tim Cook said something similar in another interview, saying, "We always thought that glasses were not a smart move, from a point of view that people would not really want to wear them. They were intrusive, instead of pushing technology to the background, as we've always believed. We always thought it would flop, and, you know, so far it has."

That was also an Apple Watch-centric comment, and it was made in direct observation of Google Glass, which has indeed flopped. But...

Steve Jobs was infamous for denigrating existing technology only to release an improved version of that technology a little later. Tim Cook and Jony Ive don't have a track record of doing so. Instead, Mr. Cook's record is expressing some level of interest in technology—or more often the underlying needs some given technology is trying to address—when Apple is working in that area.

He did so just this week during Tuesday's conference call with analysts, saying, "In terms of virtual reality, no, I don't think it's a niche. I think it can be—it's really cool and has some interesting applications."

When it comes to VR and AR, there are two ways to experience it: through your eyes or being jacked in the hard way, meaning through direct manipulation of our brains in some sort of science fiction way that we are decades away from seeing. Which surely means that Apple is developing some kind of headset-based technology, despite the above-mentioned protestations.

Apple's interest in VR began roughly a decade ago under Steve Jobs, when Apple filed multiple patents in the VR space. Those efforts were shelved because they it was too early, but the FT report also said Apple's interests were reawakened in 2014 when Facebook bought Occulus Rift, a VR headset startup that was focused on the gaming space.

Which again makes me think that Apple must surely be developing a headset.

Goggles made with help from Shutterstock.

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Tim says the face is the wrong place for AR/VR and then hint at a huge brick on the head??? Ha Ha!!!  I said a few days ago Apple should look into AR/VR as well as quantum dots and lo and behold - another prediction hit.  The two camera iPhone may be a component for 3D imaging in the VR space. The “cockpit” of a vehicle (NOT the AppleCar Vaporware) is prime for an augmented reality display or shall we say “experience” to augment autonomous “self awareness” of vehicles like bikes, motorcycles and cars. Don’t bury Google Glass yet; you ain’t heard the last of that unit - the medical field is using them big time and the apps are growing and a new one allegedly much cheaper than $1500 is coming; the mini touch; natural voice control and many other features in a NON BRICK size might be something Apple eventually knocks off with a spin.


Or are they?
Maybe it’s a Virtual Virtual Reality Team.
Maybe they have a Virtual Virtual Virtual Reality Project.
Quick call Agent Mulder


Maybe they are building a true Star Trek Holodeck , I’m in grin


Looks like someone who predicted that the wifi box of google is a hit is now predicting this goggle thing for Apple.
Will it be another failure of a prediction, I guess it will be.
Nice try but no cigar.
Stick to writing and predicting the future is for the bizarros in WS.


Honestly, until they can jack the information right into my brain, VR is going to be a waste of time. They need to be able to fool all your senses for a truly VR experience. The current Video and Audio implementation is no different than back in the 90’s when VR made an attempt in the arcades, it’s going to be a niche product that offers a half-baked immersive experience prone to nausea.

Now Augmented Reality on the other hand, I can see being useful, for things like HUDS etc. Microsoft seems to be going in the right direction with Hololens.

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