Apple Has a Secret Team Working on Virtual Reality

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Apple Has a Secret Team Working on Virtual Reality

Apple appears to have assembled a secret team of experts in virtual and augmented reality working on prototypes of VR headsets. It also bought Metaio, which created software for building augmented reality applications, as well as Faceshift, a German company that developed technology that scans facial features and creates animated avatars that mimic the person's facial movements in real time.

The acquisition is interesting in isolation, but it's when held as a trend, listed against Apple's previous movements in the space that have led observers to conclude that the evidence is now very strongly pointing to Apple making a move in the immersive technology space soon.

According to Financial Times, Apple's VR team is hundreds of employees strong, and is made up of some key hires from Microsoft's Hololens division as well as Lytro.

Facebook acquired the VR headset developer Rift in 2014 for $2 billion, and Google is developing a VR headset known as Cardboard.

According to Time, the company's acquisition of Bowman could also be a signal that the company will soon pursue VR and augmented reality (AR) technology. However, Apple has been conspicuously silent about any plans to enter the field.

Apple's interest in virtual reality is quiet but long standing. Apple recently hired a top virtual reality researcher and a former director of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction at Virginia Tech.

Next up for Apple: virtual reality? According to the report, Apple has cranked out prototypes for multiple headset configurations for the last several months.

To compete with the likes of Microsoft and Facebook on the virtual reality field, Apple has formed a secret team of virtual and augmented reality professionals to develop a headset that can penetrate the growing sector. It was ultimately shuttered after failing to gain steam, thanks to immature technology. Right now, Apple is still scoping the market for further acquisitions to boost its optical technologies. So where is Apple's VR product?

Sir Jonathan Ive, Apple's chief design officer, told the New Yorker magazine a year ago that the face was the "wrong place" to put technology, after Google struggled to win over consumers with its Glass headset. Earlier this week, Cook admitted to thinking VR is "cool" and added that it might not be a niche product once virtual reality tech eventually matures.

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