Apple Hire Hints at Move into Augmented Reality

Apple's recent hiring spree includes more than car experts; it also includes at least one augmented reality pro. Most recently, Apple hired Nick Thompson who had been Microsoft's lead audio hardware engineer for the HoloLens project.

Apple may be getting serious about augmented realityApple may be getting serious about augmented reality

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster thinks this is a key hire for Apple and an indicator that the company is serious about getting into the augmented reality market.

HoloLens is Microsoft's head mounted augmented reality project which has excited the tech community during demonstrations. HoloLens is cool, but it's still a clunky piece of headgear with a built-in display.

Apple could be working on something similar, but considering the company's penchant for turning markets on their ear, it's more likely there's something more elegant in store. The company could be working on an enhanced gaming platform for the soon to be updated Apple TV, for example, part of an in-car navigation system, or something far cooler that hasn't shown up anywhere else yet.

This isn't Apple's first move into the augmented reality world. The company bought PrimeSense, known for its motion tracking tech that was used in the original Xbox Kinnect, in 2013. Apple followed up in 2015 by purchasing the augmented reality company Metaio.

Apple has been quiet about its plans for the companies it bought, and for the augmented reality-related hires it made, too. Considering Microsoft, Google, and other companies are working on AR devices, it isn't a surprise that Apple is at least looking at the market. With some company buyouts and hires under its belt, it's a safe bet, however, that Apple is doing more than just looking.

Since Apple hasn't jumped on the face-junk bandwagon, like Google, Microsoft, and Oculus (now part of Facebook), it could be looking at using the tech it now has in a way that doesn't have to be strapped to our heads.

That said, Apple's involvement in augmented reality is probably a long term move. The technology is fairly rudimentary for daily use, like holding up your iPhone and watching the screen, or Google's Cardboard project; or it's clunky like Oculus Rift and Microsoft HoloLens. It's going to take time to convert those technologies into something elegant and sleek, and to find a practical daily uses, too.

[Thanks to Business Insider for the heads up]