Apple may have some big plans for virtual reality (VR) in light of a recent report revealing that the tech giant has hired one of VR’s leading experts.
Apple has not unveiled anything like Microsoft’s HoloLens or Facebook’s Oculus Rift headset. However, a recent report by The Financial Times revealed that the California-based tech firm has hired one of the US’s leading experts on virtual and augmented reality; Doug Bowman – a Virginia Tech computer science professor.
The news strongly suggests that Apple plans on expanding its presence in the emerging (and incredibly lucrative) VR market.
HoloLens research project
Doug A. Bowman, a Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction at Virginia Tech, was one of many grant winners of a HoloLens research project for innovative, academic applications using the HoloLens augmented reality headset.
He was the lead author of “3D User Interfaces: Theory and Practice,” and has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles on the topics of 3D interaction, immersive virtual reality, and augmented reality.
Virtual reality vs. augmented reality
Augmented reality provides the users with information about things in front of them, i.e., in their field of vision. Virtual reality or VR is different. VR creates pretend places, virtual environments, i.e., places that do not exist. However, for the user, they feel real. The user can do things in those virtual environments.
He received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from Georgia Tech.
The FT report, written by Tim Bradshaw, provided additional information hinting that Apple has something VR-related in the pipeline. Apple recently filed multiple patents for smartphone-based VR headsets, in addition to acquiring multiple VR firms such as Emotient, Metaio, and Faceshift.
The VR market is set to become a multibillion-dollar industry, according to investment bank Goldman Sachs.
“We believe VR/AR has the potential to spawn a multibillion-dollar industry, and possibly be as game changing as the advent of the PC,” Goldman analysts recently wrote in a note to clients.
Adding: “As the use cases of VR/AR are still in very early stages of development, we suspect that Apple is trying to gain a greater understanding of how consumers want to interact with the technology and the associated challenges before making its first move,”