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Apple hires virtual and augmented reality tech expert

by SowmyaJanuary 22, 2016

According to a report in the financial times, Apple has hired one of the leading experts on virtual and augmented reality — Virginia Tech computer science professor Doug Bowman. He was recently listed among grant winners for HoloLens research projects and is skilled in creating 3D user interfaces.

He has also co-authored a book called 3D User Interfaces Theory and Practice.He’s been working on technologies such as wearable displays and full surround display prototypes at Virginia Tech.

Apple has been building up on its VR arsenal in the recent past with a string of acquisitions in the domain, along with reports of patents and other significant hires. While much has been happening behind closed doors, analysts predict that in 2016, that is going to change.

Apple will become “very aggressive on the virtual/augmented reality front through organic as well as acquisitive means in 2016 as this represents a natural next generation consumer technology that plays well into its unrivaled iPhone ecosystem,” FBR & Co analyst Daniel Ives said in an earlier report.

Notably, last year Bowman was the recipient of a $100,000 (£70,000) research grant from Microsoft for using its HoloLens headset for a study on “collaborative analysis of large-scale mixed reality data.”

While Bowman’s hire doesn’t necessarily mean Apple is developing its own VR headset to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Facebook’s Oculus Rift, HTC’s Vive, or Microsoft’s Hololens, the company has shown some interest in the nascent technology.

Apple has filed patents that show how to turn an iPhone into a VR display, it created a 360-degree music video for U2, and it purchased emotion-recognition company Emotient and augmented reality company Metaio last year.

As the FT points out, there’s also a chance that Apple’s foray into VR and AR won’t involve headsets at all, but rather electric cars. Apple has long been rumoured to be working on its own electric car, and with gesture-based interfaces from Audi and BMW gaining traction at this year’s CES, the company may want to secure talent early to stay ahead.


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